FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS — Sol Niger Within (review)

FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS — Sol Niger Within album cover Album · 1997 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Coming at ya with the complexity of a calculus equation on a physics exam in the rocket science department at MIT, the mastermind himself behind the extreme metal band Meshuggah unleashes his first solo outing to the world under the moniker FREDRIK THORDENDAL’S SPECIAL DEFECTS. Apparently not satisfied with the strangeness and angular extreme metal that Meshuggah delivers on a regular basis, THORDENDAL really lets it all loose on SOL NIGER WITHIN, which not only takes the jazz elements and high tech metal approach of Meshuggah but increases everything exponentially and adds all kinds of delicious ingredients to make one uniquely strange and satisfying edition in the world of djentology.

Some of this music itself doesn’t sound too overly different than the jazz metal fusion that i have heard from Buckethead on occasion but on this release we get a lot of diverse elements that incorporate a djent based guitar riffage with shrieked black metal type vocals that remind me a bit of Cradle Of Filth’s gothic take on the subgenre. Although the album is broken down into 29 tracks on the original release and include two extras on the 1999 re-release titled SOL NIGER WITHIN: Version 3.33 with a few changes like the organ missing, the album really comes off as one continuous track that morphs and evolves from one phase to another. The track listings are fairly unimportant as it really seems like they were randomly imposed on the musical flow.

While this is usually complimented to THORDENDAL as a solo project, this is in fact very much a conglomerate of musical talents that create some interesting avant-garde metal. Amongst others the most notable talents on board here include Morgan Ågren (drums) and Mats Öberg (keyboards) who were both performing with Frank Zappa at one point. Other non-metal instruments include the sax, church organ and yikaki, which is a long wooden instrument played by Australian Aborigines. While most tracks have their feet in the extreme metal world, some such as “Cosmic Vagina Dentata Organ” do not. This all church organ track was nixed from the 3:33 version for whatever reason. I own the first release and find the jettisoned track to be a very interesting intermission in the flow of the album.

While the subject of the lyrics involved seems to be based in the sci-fi world reminding me of the world of Voivod, there is an alien theme i detect going on here as well and the term SOL NIGER, which means the black sun, was referred to by alchemists to reflect the psyche’s feeling tone under the frigid and unrelenting influence of the planet Saturn. Some tracks like “Sensorium Dei” are just sublime in how it utilizes strange mathematical timings with tripped out guitar solos and deftly balances silence with extreme noise. This is a highly recommended slice of avant-garde metal heaven if you are seeking the strange, unorthodox and built-by-intelligent-design world of FREDRIK THORDENDAL which utilizes philosophy, mathematical musical construction and all the extreme metal brutality you would expect from his output.

While i don’t own the 3:33 version, i did find myself impressed enough with this album to check out the two extra tracks on this version for the sake of comparison. The two extra tracks are “Missing Time” which clocks in at 11:31 and “Ooo Baby Baby” which is only a mere 1:15. This version also emits “Painful Disruption” which is merely a 29 second freaky guitar frenzy that sounds like something Steve Vai would conjure up with a Zappa type of feel. “Missing Time” sounds more like a more recognizable jazz-fusion guitar piece with some narration about alien abductions. “Ooo Baby Baby” is a highly aggressive dent guitar assault that is short and to the point. It has a nice strange ending. Overall, i say stick to the original. The extra tracks are nice but i like the omitted ones more.
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