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Another Review was published by Ken from metalbuzz.net yesterday January 30, 2013
Here’s the full thing …
Semantic Saturation is a progressive metal project founded by Shant Hagopian. Shant is a Canadian songwriter/guitarist of Syrian/Armenian heritage. He has specialized in Jazz guitar studies and in ’97 founded the progressive metal band Nu.Clear.Dawn with “Poem of a Knight” being the first metal record released in Syria. Touring throughout the Middle East and performing at large festivals like “Rock the Nations” 2004 in Istanbul and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Pain of Salvation, Epica, Sentenced, Vanden Plas and more, the album received positive reviews from acclaimed webzines such as Metal Storm and The Metal Observer.
Shant moved to Canada in 2005 and started working on his solo project. Fast forward to 2013. This project, which is now a reality, features well-seasoned musicians Virgil Donati (Steve Vai), Ric Fierabracci (Planet X), along with guests Derek Sherinian (keyboards/ex-Dream Theater) and Andy Kuntz (vocals/Vanden Plas).
I have to say this. The term “super group” gets thrown around way to much these days, but if there ever was a perfect time for it to be used, that time would be right now in reference to this collaboration.
“Solipsistic” marks the band’s debut, and what a wonderful one it is. From the opening monster riff of “Ambivalence”, I was immediately pulled in and held captive, but not against my will. I wanted to be there, waiting for more as each track faded out and a new one began. Never once was I disappointed. The musical transitions are flawless and unforced. I’ve listened to the album three times now, and each time I am treated to something new that I didn’t hear the first time. For example, check the bass fills near the end of “Armchair Activist”. The first eight tracks are instrumental, while track number nine, “What if We All Stop”, contains the guest lead vocals of Andy Kuntz.
I can verify right now that “Solipsistic” is the epitome of progressive rock/metal.
I believe in giving musical credit where it is due, and in the case of Semantic Saturation, the influences of such heavyweights as Rush, Dream Theater, and most definitely Porcupine Tree seep through onto “Solipsistic”. At some point during the course of the record, each instrument gets time in the spotlight. Check “Ambivalence” for the incredible drum work of Virgil Donati, “Stardust” for Derek Sherinian’s keys, “Armchair Activist” for Ric Fierabracci’s bass and all nine tracks for Shant Hagopian’s masterful guitar work. From picking to tapping to strumming, it’s all in there, and its all done very well.
“Solipsistic”, or (solipsism), defined is “the theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified.” Well, I can verify right now that “Solipsistic” is the epitome of progressive rock/metal. The album is boundless, and will forever stand the test time. Absolutely brilliant and well worth the wait. Do not let this one slip by.
Track list 1. Ambivalence 6:34 2. Make Believe 5:07 3. Lost and Found – Insanity 5:27 4. Stardust 6:50 5 .Blessing in Disguise 4:48 6. Armchair Activist 4:11 7. Point of Singularity 3:51 8. Time is an Illusion 5:44 9. What if We All Stop 8:45
Released on January 21, 2013
The first 50 CD orders include free guitar picks and posters autographed by Derek Sherinian and Shant Hagopian. Pick up your copy at http://www.semanticsaturation.com.
Ok, I’m not saying this because it’s just a review about my record. No!
You have to read it to understand, this is a story, a magical trip, a face-melting ground-shaking mind-numbing piece of goodness.
Would you like to have an orgasm in your brain ?
Rocio Flores Bedoya from LadyObscure.com has described the project, the album, the music, the feeling and the style with her review that sent multiple chills down my spine when I woke up this morning and read it.
The music will come to you and slap you hard in the face, a sweet punishment, painfully delicious. Music that goes beyond magic and reality, a prog-fairy-tale. Passion, wisdom, crazy theory… Solipsism.
All you have to do when you get Solipsistic, by Semantic Saturation, is turn up the volume. The magic will come to you per se. Even if you are very tired or you have a painful hangover, the music will come to you and slap you hard in the face, a sweet punishment, painfully delicious. Music that goes beyond magic and reality, A prog-fairy-tale. Passion, wisdom, crazy theory… Solipsism.
Semantic Saturation is a progressive rock / metal project by Shant Hagopian, a Canadian songwriter / guitarist, of Syrian / Armenian heritage, who is also the founder of the syrian band Nu.Clear.Dawn (famous for being the first Syrian metal band to release an album). Hagopian has recruited for this album a select group of well known progressive metal icons like bassist Ric Fierabracci, Andy Kuntz as a special guest on vocals, Virgil Donati on drums and the amazing keyboardist Derek Sherinian, ex Dream Theater, which (along Donati) is a former member of the band Planet X. No wonder the lady was very excited about this album, as it features two of her heroes, namely Derek Sherinian and Andy Kuntz. She will be interviewing the mastermind Shant Hagopian for the Lady Obscure readers very soon by the way. Be on the lookout for it!
Solipsism is a philosophical idea that although it is not that credible, is also irrefutable. The theory says that we can only be sure of the existence of our own mind, and the rest, people, objects; “reality”, etc, are mere reflections of the mental states of the self. The Spanish writer Calderon de la Barca wrote in one of his books: What is life? A tale that is told. What is life? a frenzy extreme, a shadow of things that seems, and the greatest good is but small, that all life is a dream to all, and themselves, that dreams are a dream. I think this is the best way to summarize the concept of solipsism … and since, according to this theory, you readers don’t exist, and are merely a product of my mind, I can confess without fear my hallucinations and write this review as I please. So as I said, Solipsistic was like a prog-fairy-tale for me, and I will explain you why. The day I enjoyed a thousand times the album and tasted each of its flavors, I lost all sense of time and at some point I fell asleep. That’s when the magic came over me in an awesome way and I had a fascinating dream that I must share:
Once upon a time, in the country of prog metal, a magic town called Solipsistic. I was walking through the enchanted forest, when a song echoed through the speakers of my town. The first notes flooded my ears and teleported me to Ambivalence, a room with no exit, where the magic was gathered. I couldn’t see anything. I just heard a gloomy riff that sounded omnipotent on the depths. Furious keyboards, killer drums, powerful bass, and smooth transitions, all together with a guitar possessed by a dark melody, clear and addictive. My body shook with every note and a cold sweat ran on my forehead. When I was about to faint, whispers came to my ears and stopped my impact on the floor… one … two … three seconds of silence … and then Make Believe woke me up gently, with a lead guitar a little more melancholic that brought new energy to my body, a very melodic song, catchy and lingering. I had tasted the food of the gods and eagerly wanted more…. Suddenly the ground began to shake, Lost and Found started with atmospheric keys and gradually turned into a fascinating adventure; the guitar melody invited me to follow it in the dark and I walked along the track, a tasty rhythm, great drum work, a melody sweetly intriguing. Where do those sharp and beautiful sounds come from? They rise and fall between naturally flowing and harmonious transitions… I kept moving through a overwhelming corridor, and I found a door. I opened it, completely submitted to the adventure, and Stardust surrounded me with a powerful mixture. I immediately recognized the great work of the master Sherinian and his metal fusion, the song showed me virtuosity, but not absurd virtuosity, it was enhanced intelligently in the rhythm, tone and its own vibrations. Then Blessing in Disguise appeared under the door, a ballad that was slowly saturating the air I breathed, the sweet melody of the guitar gently rose me, there was something almost romantic in those keyboards that provided me a sense of peace, warmth and security. The tone, the damn tone, so eagerly sought by guitarists, flowed freely through the hands of Hagopian. The man doesn’t try to impress with his skill, although his skills are pouring in torrents, he delivers his heart and soul in his playing and gives a voice to his guitar. It’s impossible to not shut up and pay attention.
Suddenly the windows broke apart and Armchair Activist rang strong, determined to kill, adrenaline at its most pure and uncontrollable state, a song that lets Donati to show off, making his drum work in the spotlight at certain moments, printing the awe expression on your face. The adrenaline made me run, and I quickly ran up the metal stairs with jazzy handles. When I reached the top, I found Points of Singularity, a universe built by a guitar wisely sweet in a heavenly atmosphere that gives you the feeling of being drunk and really saturated with every particle of the soul and heart of Hagopian. A curtain opened and Time is an Illusion began with a detonator riff, Hagopian’s guitar took over my mind again… I reached ecstasy and lost the sense of time. When I realized, I was back where my adventure had begun, and the song was over. One .. two … three seconds of silence … and a new song started, an energetic semi-ballad, in which the clear voice of Andy Kuntz flames in the air like a wave on the sea, calmly but thunderous. rhythm guitar is simply epic, at times flashes of voices complement its sound and Hagopian makes good use of each space to show off his technique with healing melodies woven with gold threads, the notes of Kuntz voice fall one by one over me, and one of them came closer to my ear and whispered What If We All Stop … I woke up suddenly on my bedroom, but when I saw the cat headbanging at my side, I knew it was not a dream…
I know what you must be thinking, and no, I wasn’t high. Is the power of quality music which is able to transport us to remote places of our brains. The solipsistic universe can be divided into two parts: the part controlled by our conscious mind and the part controlled by our unconscious mind. Shant Hagopian is able to combine these two parts dangerously; he understands and respects the fact that music is art, and as art, it should be fun and catchy, many instrumental progressive bands have overlooked this for many years, focusing on technique and speed. Music is not a competition about who is the fastest, my friends; music is emotion, and that’s something that overflows in this album. A definitive must have for those who love instrumental prog metal, perfectly digestible food for not lovers. I think it is very hard to find the words to explain the perfect balance of quality and passion that this album brings, but wait… maybe I don’t have to explain it to you… maybe you don’t exist…
This free download of “Stardust” is likely your first introduction to the project known as Semantic Saturation, a group that can be described as the solo project of Canadian guitarist/songwriter Shant Hagopian. Hagopian, of Syrian/Armenian heritage, is nearly a lifelong musician who from 1996 to 2003 specialized in jazz guitar studies. In 1997 he decided to form a band, the progressive rock/metal group Nu.Clear.Dawn. He formed the band in the Syrian city of Aleppo and they became one of the first and very few bands to emerge from out of Syria.
Nu.Clear.Dawn toured a lot through the Middle East and played in large festivals such as Istanbul’s Rock the Nations. Their 2003 album Poem of a Knight was the first officially released metal record in Syria. By 2005, Hagopian had moved to Canada and decided to carry forth with the Semantic Saturation solo project. The debut album Solipsistic was just released on January 21st and features several progressive metal stars, such as keyboardist Derek Sherinian (ex. Dream Theater) and vocalist Andy Kuntz (Vanden Plas). This is one for the prog rock/metal fans to definitely NOT miss!
It was probably 1990 or 1991 I don’t exactly remember, but I used to help my dad at his photo printing shop and I realized we could use some music there, so he had this vintage National Panasonic cassette player that he used to listen to the radio, I asked him if I could use it to play some music, and he agreed saying “as long as you don’t play it loud”. So now I had the player, I needed some tapes, but where ? how ? who ? I had absolutely no idea what to listen to, the only tape my family had at home that I kind of enjoyed listening to (please don’t laugh) was Boney-M, and I got bored listening to it over and over anyway, and the local Arabic or Armenian music didn’t appeal or interest me at all, no offense but they sound like you’re in the middle of some middle eastern wedding in 1920 and everybody is dancing on your head.
Anyway! One day one of my dad’s friends brought me a tape, it had no case and nothing written on, he said I can keep and listen to it, and so I did ! I kept listening to the single cassette tape I proudly owned. It sounded like different musicians were playing on it, it must have been a compilation I thought. And so months have passed and I kept listening to this mysterious tape, there was one song that I loved! I wish I knew what it was called.
Would’ve been great if we had Shazam or Internet back then!
At some point I wanted to get more tapes and listen to more music, so I made a feeble attempt to pick up some music randomly from a local music store, now I’m not gonna tell you all of the tapes I got, some were pretty embarrassing, but among the tapes were Pet Shop Boys, Aerosmith, Brian Addams, Bon Jovi and The Freddy Mercury Album which was just released. I loved everything I heard , but I have to admit my dad didn’t like all of them specially Aerosmith.
Fast forward a few months, it was 1993 and my friend introduced me to a new band that he had just discovered, we both loved the music, it was Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell we were listening to, it had just been released. So we decided to go down to the local music store and pick up more of their albums, we got The Wall, Dark Side of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. It was a Sunday morning and my dad’s store was closed but I had the keys, and by then I had brought this vintage Denon cassette deck to the store, it had really nice and big speakers and nobody was using it much at home anyway.
So we started playing The Wall and blasted the speakers and it started “So ya, Thought ya, might like to go to the show…” and it suddenly hit me in the face! This was so familiar, how ? and why ? I didn’t understand what was going on until Comfortably Numb started and then it all made sense, I opened my eyes wide and dropped my chin in shock and happiness. It was my favorite song from that mysterious tape!
Later I discovered that the tape was a collection of Pink Floyd and Scorpions songs.
A few tracks from Solipsistic will be played on the FM radio station CKRL 89.1 tonight (Saturday 26) at 8:30pm EST. Jacques Dulac will be hosting his show Illusions Auditive.
During the show, also on the menu for tonight’s show is: Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Alex Boman
If you are in Quebec, Canada you can tune in at 89.1 on the radio, or you can tune in from anywhere in the world through CKRL Website.
Prog Palace Radio – Album Release / Listening Party at 9:00pm EST
I will be “co-hosting” (kind of) I’m not much of a radio host myself, but I’ll try to help Greg Stafford tonight on his show at Prog Palace Radio, I will also try to answer any questions you guys have.
The show starts at 7:00pm EST, and the entire Solipsistic album will be played tonight starting at 9:00pm (EST) / 2:00am (GMT). So make sure you tune in before that, I’ll try to hang around until 11:00pm (EST).