Fredrik Thordendal

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Fredrik Thordendal
Fredrik Thordendal 2005.jpg
Fredrik Thordendal performing live at Mondo, Stockholm, Sweden during May 2005.
Background information
Birth nameFredrik Thordendal
Born (1970-02-11) 11 February 1970 (age 49)
Origin Umeå, Sweden
Genres Experimental metal, extreme metal, progressive metal
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, bass, keyboard, vocal, programming, drums
Associated acts Meshuggah
Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects

Fredrik Thordendal (born 11 February 1970) is a Swedish musician, best known as the lead guitarist and backing vocalist for the Swedish extreme metal band Meshuggah, of which he is a founding member. Along with Meshuggah's rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström, Thordendal was rated No. 35 by Guitar World in the top 100 greatest heavy metal guitarists of all-time. [1]

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formal name: the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

Meshuggah Swedish heavy metal band

Meshuggah is a Swedish extreme metal band from Umeå, formed in 1987. Meshuggah's line-up consists of founding members vocalist Jens Kidman and lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, drummer Tomas Haake, who joined in 1990, rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström, who joined in 1993 and bassist Dick Lövgren since 2004.


Musical career

Thordendal began his career when he formed "Metallien", a heavily Metallica-influenced band, in his hometown Umeå in 1985. The band later changed their name to Meshuggah and released their first LP Psykisk Testbild in 1989. [2] Beginning as a thrash metal band, Meshuggah's music gradually evolved into a more progressive sound. Various members of the band coined the term "Djent" in reference to a commonly-utilised technique of playing heavily muted, extended powerchords found within Meshuggah's music. [3] Thordendal has been widely recognized [4] [5] in the metal community for his work with Meshuggah.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Umeå Place in Västerbotten, Sweden

Umeå is a city in north east Sweden. It is the seat of Umeå Municipality and the capital of Västerbotten County. The city is located on the Ume River.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Under the name Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects, Thordendal released a solo album in 1997 titled Sol Niger Within with Ultimate Audio Entertainment. The album was remixed and re-released by Ultimate Audio Entertainment and Relapse Records in 1999 under the title Sol Niger Within version 3.33. The re-release contains two bonus tracks but omits several parts of the original version. SNW's newly mastered version was also released for the first time on vinyl in 2016 by Husaria Records, an American label specializing in audiophile releases; the album's original material was pressed as both lacquer cut variant (500 units) and Direct Metal Mastering variant (500 units). Thordendal also featured on several tracks for drummer Morgan Ågren's Mats/Morgan Band.

<i>Sol Niger Within</i> 1997 studio album by Fredrik Thordendals Special Defects

Sol Niger Within is the first release by Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects, a side project of Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. The album was originally released in 1997 on the Ultimate Audio Entertainment label.

Relapse Records record label in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, United States

Relapse Records is an American independent record label based in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. It was founded by Matthew F. Jacobson in 1990. The label features a large number of grindcore, death metal, and sludge metal artists.

Mats/Morgan Band is a band that features Morgan Ågren and Mats Öberg. Morgan is a drummer and composer and Mats is a keyboard player and composer. The band is a showcase for their virtuosic skills on their respective instruments as well as their compositional skills. Their music is difficult to categorize, containing elements of jazz, electronic music, waltz, dance music, avant garde/free jazz, techno, rock, progressive and modern classical music.

As a guitarist, Thordendal draws attention with his clean, complex lead-playing, inspired by jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth, and complex rhythm-playing featuring prominent polymetric passages. These characteristics are augmented by his use of seven and eight-string guitars. He has a large contribution to songwriting, as well as providing backing vocals for some songs during live performances.

Allan Holdsworth English guitarist and composer

Allan Holdsworth was a British guitarist and composer. He released twelve studio albums as a solo artist and played a variety of musical styles in a career spanning more than four decades, but is best known for his work in jazz fusion.

Fredrik has been quoted as stating that Metallica and Tool as influences on Meshuggah. Meshuggah supported Tool during their U.S. tour in the fall of 2002, where drummer Tomas Haake even guest appearing, playing "Triad" with the band.

Tool (band) American alternative metal band

Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up includes drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Justin Chancellor has been the band's bassist since 1995, replacing their original bassist Paul D'Amour. Tool has won three Grammy Awards, performed worldwide tours, and produced albums topping the charts in several countries.

Fredrik praises jazz fusion guitarist Wayne Krantz's work with Keith Carlock and Tim Lefebvre, stating that "these guys are the most inspiring band I've heard in a very long time". He has also stated that he listens to Massive Attack and Cult of Luna.

Tim Lefebvre

Tim Lefebvre is an American bass guitarist. Both as a session musician and band member, he has worked with a wide range of musicians, including David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Sting, Empire of the Sun, The Sleepy Jackson, Wayne Krantz, Patti Austin, John Mayer, Jovanotti, Chuck Loeb, Mark Guiliana, Jamie Cullum, Chris Botti, and Knower. A member of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, he has performed on film and television soundtracks, including Ocean's Twelve, The Departed, Analyze That, The Sopranos, and 30 Rock.

In an interview with Guitar World in 2011 Fredrik states "My dad always listened to jazz, and I guess that influenced me to learn about improvisation. An improvised solo sounds so much better than a written one. For me, there's not much thinking going on at all, only a reaction to what I'm being told from the inside. And no, I have not had any formal training. When I record my leads, they are usually based on feel and totally ignorant to all laws of music theory. This, of course, is because I just play whatever comes out. There are no rules. But on certain songs, I do have to figure out what scales I need to use to follow chord changes. Since I'm not very good with all the scales, I sometimes have to write parts down and plan things ahead. I usually improvise the first part, then insert the written part and continue to improvise until the end of the solo. It's a very confusing way to do it, but I do whatever it takes to make it sound like I know what I'm doing".

Fredrik utilizes a unique device for his leads, referred to as the MIDI breath controller. He states "I was mainly interested in using it as a dynamics controller. I wanted to start a note at a lower volume and then bring it up, like a saxophonist does. But I've since found that is more or less impossible with a guitar. Since the controller didn't produce the sound I was after, I had to find other ways of using it. It turned out that the only thing that sounded cool was when I blew every single note with it, which generated this weird staccato sound. The first breath controller we made—the one I used on "Future Breed Machine" and "Sublevels" from Destroy Erase Improve—could only control the volume. So Johan Haake and I tried all kinds of things to get closer to what I originally wanted, like adding control over frequencies and distortion. I am really pleased with how the "Missing Time" solo turned out from Sol Niger Within Version 3.33 [the remix CD of the debut album from his side project Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects]. But I never thought we got close enough, so I sort of gave up on it. A couple of years ago it was for sale to the public, but not any more".

In 2010, Fredrik recorded some drum tracks with Morgan Ågren [of Swedish prog-rock band Kaipa] and [Soilwork's] Dirk Verbeuren.

Fredrik Thordendal live 2016 Meshuggah 2016 Bandmember Fredrik Thordendal 2.jpg
Fredrik Thordendal live 2016

Several of Fredrik's demos have been released on the internet as MP3s or as videos on YouTube. One composition entitled "Demo 33" can be found at "Demo 33" was used to demonstrate Fredrik's MIDI breath controller, which is used on several Meshuggah songs, one being Future Breed Machine. More information regarding the controller can be found at (along with the original "Demo 33" MP3 and other demos of the device). The site was created by Johan Haake, brother of Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake, and the creator of the original MIDI breath controller for Fredrik. Another demo idea, called "Secrets of the Unknown" can be found at

With regards to a second Special Defects album Fredrik states "It’s actually been messing with my head for years now. I haven’t really found the time to get the project going. This is a project that I will work on for a longer time, with no rush whatsoever, to make it the best I possibly can. I’m looking forward to making it because I think it will sound so different from anything I’ve ever heard before".

Thordendal is also a producer of some note, having produced all of Meshuggah's recent material and also releases for various other bands, Switzerland's Fragment among them.

Thordendal has featured in numerous side-projects, such as XXX Atomic Toejam with Petter Marklund. The project had released a 7" two-track single "Celebration" under the name Sepülchre Inc., then took the moniker XXX Atomic Toejam and issued an MCD entitled "A Gathering of the Tribes for the First / Last Human Be-In" on Cold Meat Industry and also featured a track on the "Karmanik Collection" compilation. A full-length album was long announced, but never surfaced. Thordendal also played bass for Petter Marklund's solo project Memorandum and together with Marklund remixed tracks on the 1995 compilation album "Ars Moriendi".

Thordendal features in the Darkane track "Psychic Pain" from the album Insanity, performing lead guitar. Thordendal also contributed to the song "Asphyxiate" which can be found on Scarve's album Irradiant. He played a guitar solo on the title track of the Devin Townsend Project album Deconstruction.

Fredrik Thordendal cut off the tip of his left middle finger at work. The fingertip was sewn back on, and after a fair degree of re-learning and practicing, he regained full proficiency on guitar within a year or so. He also made a contribution towards the soundtrack to the computer games Wolfenstein: The New Order , released 2014 [6] and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus , released 2017.



Meshuggahs guitars used live 2016 Meshuggah 2016 Gear Guitars.jpg
Meshuggahs guitars used live 2016

Thordendal's current main guitars are Ibanez Custom 8-String M8M which feature RG-shaped or Iceman-shaped alder bodies with 5-piece maple/Bubinga neck-thru necks (29.4" {746.76 mm}), rosewood fingerboards (no inlays), fixed bridge (actually an Ibanez FX-Edge fixed tremolo), one volume, one tone, and one Lundgren Model 8 pickup. The fixed bridge on one of his 8 strings has since been replaced with a Kahler tremolo system. Thordendal also owns a 7-string acoustic guitar, also made by Ibanez. For some time he also used Nevborn guitars. This company made Meshuggah their first 8 string guitars: however these guitars suffered from intonation problems, causing Thordendal to abandon the company and switch to exclusively using Ibanez guitars. On the current North American tour promoting Koloss, he has been using a custom Firebird type body 8 string, called the Stoneman. The Stoneman features a 27" scale length, which Thordendal prefers, as mentioned by his tech in an interview with Premier Guitar.

For early Meshuggah releases, Fredrik tuned his 7 strings in B♭ tuning (a half step below standard tuning on a 7-string guitar). He followed suit when he started using 8 string guitars, tuning them down to F tuning (F, B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭,G♭, B♭, E♭). It was explained in an interview that they tuned their guitars this way because in the early days of Meshuggah, before Jens Kidman adopted his signature vocal style, it was easier for him to sing in the key of E♭ or B♭. Occasionally Thordendal deviates from his "standard" tuning: on the songs "Glints Collide", "Organic Shadows", "Perpetual Black Second", "The Hurt That Finds You First" and "Stengah" he tunes the low F string of his 8 string guitar a half step lower to E, he also tunes it to E♭ on "Nebulous" and "Shed" and even to D on "Obsidian". On "Spasm" he tunes it even lower from that, down to B♭ (B♭, B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭, B♭, E♭), making the 8th string an octave below the 7th, while "Mind's Mirrors" utilizes the 8th string tuned down to E0.

Guitar Strings:
DR Strings, Tite-Fit, [7] LH-9 "Lite & Heavy" set: [.009 – .011 – .016 – .026 – .036 – .046], .052, .070 [8] (stock gauges on the Ibanez M8M signature guitar) [9]

Guitar Picks:
Jim Dunlop 1.3mm Primetone Standard w/ grip [10]

Amplifiers and Effects

Custom made amp by Mike Fortin, 2016 Meshuggah 2016 Gear Fortin Amp.jpg
Custom made amp by Mike Fortin, 2016

Amplifiers and Effects used in the past



Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects

The Devin Townsend Project


Mattias Eklundh


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  2. Ekeroth, Daniel (2006). Swedish deathmetal. sid. 390. ISBN   91-974334-2-X
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 5, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. Ekeroth, Daniel (2006). Swedish deathmetal. sid. 390. ISBN   91-974334-2-X
  7. "DR Strings | The Handmade String - Guitar and Bass". DR Strings | The Handmade String - Guitar and Bass. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  8. Premier Guitar (March 12, 2013), Rig Rundown - Meshuggah's Fredrik Thordendal, Mårten Hagström, & Dick Lövgren , retrieved February 8, 2016
  9. "Electric Guitars Meshuggah - M8M Meshuggah | Ibanez guitars". Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  10. "Jim Dunlop on Instagram: "#FredrikThordendal and #MartenHagstrom of the mighty #Meshuggah !! Fred is loving the 1.3mm #Primetone Standard w/ grip and Marten's live…"". Instagram. Retrieved February 8, 2016.