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THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS

Experimental/Post Metal • Sweden


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A side-project of Meshuggah lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. Features the same kind of polyrhythmic guitar assult as his main band, but with a far greater inclination towards jazz-fusion and Fredrik's lead guitar work. Also features Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake on vocals and jazz saxophonist Jonas Knutsson among others. Their one album Sol Niger Within is essential for anybody with an interest in experimental metal.

See also:

-Meshuggah


THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS could fit under progressive metal, jazz-fusion and at times even Avant. The music is extremely complex, the songs all flow together into one massive, extremely diverse track, and the jazz influence is impossible to ignore.

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4.15 | 107 ratings
Sol Niger Within
1996

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THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Fredrik Thordendal's side project is a trippy slice of jazz-tinged extreme prog metal, with a delirious concept that seems to allude to alien abduction and all that late 1990s X-Files fun. It's been issued in two versions, of which I have only heard Version 3.33 - which apparently takes out the church organ that appeared on some tracks, but compensates for this with improved sound quality and two extra songs. It's an enjoyable enough listen which will intrigue anyone interested in highly technical jazz-metal that takes the experiments of the likes of Atheist to the next level, though it isn't such a classic as to prompt me to go track down the other version for the sake of comparing and contrasting.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Sol Niger Within' - Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects (5/10)

To those who aren't familiar, Fredrik Thordendal is the lead guitarist of extreme metal band Meshuggah, an act that has reached near legendary proportions for their highly complex polyrhythms, philosophical themes and experimentation with meter. With that being said, this solo effort takes alot of the sounds that defined Thordendal's flagship project and adds a new dimension of weirdness to the mix that breaks the sound out of convention. With 'Sol Niger Within,' Fredrik Thordendal appears to be at his experimental peak, traversing well into the realm of the avant-garde with some heavily jazz influenced chaos, dissonant soundscapes and a loosely assembled but flowing body of work. While I can't say that a great deal of the new experiments that Thordendal dabbles with here turn out all that well, Meshuggah and avant garde fans will undoubtedly find something interesting to dive into here, although the work here is not nearly as convincing as the music Meshuggah is known for.

At twentysix tracks (plus two bonus offerings), it seems clear that 'Sol Niger Within' is the Last FM scrobbler's dream album. With some tracks just barely meeting the 15 second mark, sections of the album will pass in the time between blinks of an eye. Luckily for the listener however, each of the songs flow together as a larger, 'epic suite' of sorts. The album doesn't sound like it's a Meshuggah release, but there is the sense here that Thordendal hasn't let go completely of the sound from which he built his legend on. The mathematically aware chugging of Meshuggah is here; but something else really makes the music a fiar bit different than a listener may be familiar with. First, the drummer of Meshuggah and Fredrik's bandmate Tomas Haake does the vocal work here; a raspy snarl that instantly brings to mind, the minor character of Salacious Crumb from 'Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi.' However, the almost inhuman sound of the vocal delivery meshes almost perfectly in with the experimental nature of the album, and works generally well. Unfortunate, Haake's growling work is not used here nearly a much as it could have, instead making way for large sections of noise and instrumental repetition.

What doesn't work well with 'Sol Niger Within' is primarily it's 'spoken dialogue' sections, and the overbearing concentration on keyboard soloing. Concerning the latter, a fair portion of the instrumental music here consists of a mixture of a meandering synth lead that sounds like Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess at his worst, along with the typical Meshuggah rhythmic chug. While the synth work here sounded interesting at first, the fact that the music constantly falls back on it gets really annoying after a while. Secondly, a few tracks here (unfortunately, some of the longer ones) fall into the category of listless dialogue, in which the narrator rambles about some metaphysical philosophy, which on first impression can be beautifully poetic, but gets incredibly bland after the second and third listens.

As a suite and album, 'Sol Niger Within' feels relatively loose as a composition, especially with the two useless bonus tracks padded onto the end. The musicianship here is great, but the obvious experimentation and avant attitude here doesn't work nearly as well as it could have, especially from a musician as gifted as Fredrik Thordendal.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by dragonspirit

4 stars As far as albums from metal-jazz fusion bands such as Exivious and Cynic go, this album is the strongest that I've come across so far. Overall, it comes across as a kind of nightmare-- a beautiful darkness or hell, if you will. Compared to Meshuggah, it's less brutal/extreme, and it's as if the melodic sections from the guitar solos were extended into full-fledge song ideas. I agree with other reviewers in that some sections can become a bit repetitive, and sometimes, screaming is inserted into the mix in the most repetitive parts.

I wish that more music of this quality and genre were available. Other jazz fusion that I've listened to is sometimes boring and aimless, and other technical/extreme progressive metal is often complex for its own sake, while sacrificing compositional coherence and/or flow.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sol Niger Within stands alone. True enough, the Meshuggah element is still there (as you would expect from their soul songwriter's solo project), but it has its own unique outlook on metal music. This album is nowhere near as extreme as Meshuggah for one thing, it is in ways more complex and experimental however, the most standout element in this that you will barely find in a Meshuggah album is the jazz influence, evident in the chord progressions and Frederick's solos. There is also a little use of square synth voices as well to add to the overall weird experience. I do have a love for this album, but I have a few minor complaints and one very major complaint.

The minor complaints are first off, it does get a little too repetitive at times, and the guy does seem to stick with the same formula of a different polymeter per track. I think this idea lacks musicality grossly, although as you surf through the album track by track, you hardly notice. It just frustrates me a little. Secondly is the production. Personally, I think the bass is sky high where it needn't be, and blurs out a lot of the interesting instrumental additions, which is a big shame really.

As for my one BIG complaint, it is in fact the only thing that is stopping me from rating this album musically a 5 star. This complaint is of the fillers. I've never been a fan of them, like in Tool's Lateralus, I think they should be scrapped completely. But even in Lateralus, at least the filler songs are tuneful and atmospheric to a degree. The fillers in this are pretty much... well, unlistenable to me. I'm talking about Uforia, Painful Disruption, Cosmic Vagina Dentata Organ and as a matter of fact that big latter middle chunk of what I like to call noise. I have no idea what the guy was thinking, but it isn't even music to me. If it were cut out of the record, as I mentioned before, it would have improved the album and brought it up to monolithic heights in my book. Even if it does mean making the whole thing only about an hour long. The mechanical talking sections also spoil it for me.

So baring in mind I can't actually listen to the album as a whole, I cannot possibly rate it a masterpiece. However, it does have its masterpiece moments, like Morgan Agren's flawless drumming, Bouncing In A Bottomless Pit, the last track, the cool opener, Och Stjärnans Namn Var Malört and many more brilliant tracks/sections/factors. Overall though, the highest I can rate this is a 4 star effort.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by ProgBagel
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects - Sol Niger Within 5 stars

This is my second favorite 'jazz-metal' album of all time. Although this isn't a normal mix between the two, we more avant-garde mixed in then anything else.

This is a solo album by Fredrik Thordendal, the lead guitarist and one of the main composers for the band Meshuggah. Since the debut album, it was obvious that Fredrik had a keen interest in the works of Allan Holdsworth, one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time and the name you will find listed on just about any major guitarists influences.

This album sounds much like Meshuggah from the 'Destroy Erase Improve' era, but there is so much more to it then that. The trademark angular, dissonant and machine-like grooves with his signature eight-string guitar are still there and just as good as ever. The amount of jazz leads and solo's that were so great on Meshuggah's albums has increase by an exponential amount and is very complementary to the music on this album. There are also many things that Meshuggah would never use on here like a church organ, saxophone and keyboards. The vocals are also much different, almost to a point of laughable because Tomas Haake, the drummer of Meshuggah, does them. They sound a bit like Smeagal, in his most violent of moments. What surprised me the most is that Tomas Haake was not the drummer. I remember watching the medley of youtube which led to my purchase of the album and somebody said the drummer was Morgan Agren.some session drummer. Well, similar to wikipedia, youtube gives you half correct information. I found that he played on the album too and then I remember, this guy played with Frank Zappa. Also very recently I found out he is the drummer from Kaipa, which is beyond me. All I know of the band is that they are symphonic and play in the style of Yes and Genesis, but mostly, that this band included Roine Stolt. His drum performance is just insane; some of the best jazz-drumming there is around. This is forcing me to check out a Kaipa album.

There are no pauses in the album. It is pretty much a continuous 50-minute piece that is only separated by many tracks. The music is extremely harsh and technical, but it contains some of the finest jazz solos and drum work around, definitely the driving force of this project. The keyboards and saxophone are immediately at the forefront when they are being used. The saxophone player is EXTREMELY talented, but I do not know much else about him besides his name, Jonas Knutsson.

This album is really perfect in my opinion, I thoroughly enjoy it from beginning to end every time. The listener will just got treated to the full ends of each spectrum and blasted around from one end to the other. If you are a Meshuggah fan, it is essential to pick up, I like this more then anything Meshuggah has done up to this point in time. Jazz fans will be impressed by the abundance of Holdsworth like solo's as well as the excellent saxophone performance. Then fans of metal will get their correct dosage filled in. For those that are the open-minded.then this album is one of the best you will find. All the musicians on the album gave a top-notch performance at their respective instrument. This album is absolutely essential. 5 stars, no less.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by el böthy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars From the heaviest realms of metal and the weirdest jazz from hell comes this bastard son of music; Avant metal has never been so right in it´s description.

Fredik Thordendal, Meshuggah´s main guitarist, responsable for some of the most brutal music ever conceived on this planet, embarked into a solo effort and made sure it stand out. Not only for it´s trademark polyrythmic riffs, so well known with his band, but, this time, with some extra flavors. While Meshuggah is strikly guitar/drum oriented music, Sol Niger within has sax´s, keyboard´s and curch organs, apart from the already mentioned guitars and drums. Funny is that Tomas Haake, Meshuggah´s famous polyrythmic drum God is present, but not behind the kit, but behind the mic. Haake sings, or better yet recites, in an almost snake-like voice (surely helped by some vocal effects) some of his most gallant work ever, alternating between spacy philosophy, existencial matters and jiberish nonsense, but all very well executed. Instead, Kaipa´s Morten Agren takes the role behind the drums and the result is some of the best jazzy drumming in metal I have yet to hear. Very laid back, almost Avant garde like, never ever getting tight, always loose and fun. The sax´s and key´s give the music an extra dimension we won´t find in any Meshuggah album... ever. Not that that´s a bad thing, but just to make clear that Special Defects, although it might be just as heavy as Meshuggah, it´s not the same music. But of course at the end it all comes down to Thodendal´s guitar work. The machine like riffs, the unusual melodys, the atmospheric fast jazzy solos and the through out impecable compositions make this just as good (and even better in some cases) as Meshuggah´s most acomplished works.

Though out the 50 min that the "song" lasts the margins of what is metal and what is Avant garde become more and more blurry until there are no such margins at all.

Recommended to the interested in the more extreme sides of music, those who are not afraid to submerge into uneasy territory. If you are one of those then take my 5 stars rating not as totally subjective (although there is a lot of it) but as an objective review, for this is a very important album for it´s genre. If you aren´t one of this people, then maybe see this as a 4 stars revie with a possible recommendation, hoping you will be of the first ones after a while.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Bj-1
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The original 1996 version of this album featured 26 tracks spread over 40 minutes, all being sequel to eachother making the album into a 40 minute long song. The version 3.33 released a couple of years after featured two bonus tracks.

How to describe this album? Well, imagine Meshuggah in their "Destroy Erase Improve" period mixed with avant-garde and a "slight" hint of insanity and you might get an idea how this album sound like, It's kinda like "Fantômas meets Meshuggah on a bad day". This definietly NOT easy listening metal with other words! Technically, it up to pair with some of Meshuggah's works, with very polyrhythmic use of time-signatures, similar to the ones on "Destroy Erase Improve". The guitar solo's are typical Thordendal solo's, very well played and atmospheric, sometimes even backed up with Fusion-like music ("Zeta 1 - Reticuli"). Vocals are done by Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake and are for the most of the album presented in a bitter and half-screaming voice, probably mixed with an voice effect machine. There's lot's of influences from various genres here, notably jazz and avant garde/experimental, and together with the bizarre though effective and original songwriting, Thordendal and Co. makes an unique album! This album is extremely well-done in overall, everything is just perfect it seems, and the production is excellent too. There are no really weak spots on this album, all of the music is just so good. It is because of that it is so original? Is it because of that it is so heavy and complex? Is it because it is so weird and downright sick? Well, all three options for me, plus that you can add that this album is so unique and interesting. You'll never find an album like this again, I can guarantee you.

Interested already? Give it a shot, you'll not regret if you are a Meshuggah or Fantômas fan! I can't help it but give "Sol Niger Within" a perfect 5 star rating! Extremely recommended for everyone who want to try something different. It is a bit hard to find these days, but you should do whatever you can to get it! 5 stars.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TheProgtologist
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars This is the first solo effort from Meshuggah guitarist/songwriter Frederik Thordendal,and was released in 1997.In 1999 another version was released in the U.S. with 2 bonus tracks.This solo effort finds Thordendal mining the same fertile soil of Meshuggah,but with more variety and broader creativity.

Thordendal plays guitar,with Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake on vocals,Kaipa drummer Morgen Agren on drums,Jerry Ericsson on bass,Mats Oberg and Jonas Knutsson on keyboards and saxophone,and Marcus Persson on "screams".

Sol Niger Within is basically a series of machine-like polyrhythmic metal blasts with soothing,melodic,legato jazzy passages over it all.This unusual combination culminates into one of the most inventive,most insane prog metal albums I have ever heard.The album is comprised of 26 short tracks,that basically flow into each other forming one long 50 minute song that explores the technical Meshuggah style but but with the addition of sax and more unconventional instruments such as gallskrik and yidaki(a flute-like instrument).Keyboards also play a larger harmonic role than you will ever find in Meshuggah.The guitars are compressed into tight,abrasive scratches of sound.The time shifts,odd meters and left of center approach are seemingly borne of a netherworld of insanity,but is put together with a lot of thought and care.Morgan Agren's laid back,avante-garde jazzy drumming is stunning,and the vocals are presented in a dry,almost robotic fashion.The lyrics have a sci-fi,philosophical mixture and the lyric sheet includes quotes from such diverse sources as Dante,Samuel Beckett,Shin Hsiu,Marquis de Sade,Herman Hesse,Oscar Wilde And William S. Burroughs.The quotes are not sung but are provided as a backdrop to the interspersed lyrics to tell the story.

Fresh,Stunning,Insane,Experimental and highly recommended to the fan of highly original Progressive Metal.4 stars.

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 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.15 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Komuna

5 stars Very interesting piece of art.

It is a blend of twisted guitar leads followed by basic and constantly changing urban-like rhythm guitar and drums. It is violent and features growling voices - lets call it growling, eventhough it sounds like a choking cat - accompanied by some brutal and unreasonable screaming parts, not only from the vocalist but also from a ladie. Somewhat electronic, it has too its share of cynical calmness, and disturbing monologues. The twenty-seventh track is unique in the whole album: it's ten times longer than the other "songlets"; features virtuous jazz-like guitar and saxophone solos, intertwined with bass and vocals. However, this is far from describing what this album has to offer. It is much more than that. It's a different musical experience, and has been wisely labeled as experimental. I'd say that it is very rich in a matter of rhythm, and rich on psychedelic effects, clearly marked by a fusion of several genres, including jazz. Meshuggah's mark is evident, aswell; after all, it's a project by their guitarrist. But this is not enough... If you like metal and you're willing to evolve into more complex ways (aside: other than the latest craps from used-to-be-awesome prog metal bands), I definately recomend you to take a "listen" to this one. ;)

And, hey, there's much more like this to explore here in ProgArchives! :-D

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