Paradigms Reviewed on Lady Obscure

Rocio F. Bedoya reviews Paradigms and gives it 5/5 stars on Lady Obscure

You can close your eyes and almost see the musicians playing their hearts out right in front of you and that honesty is palpable in every single track of the album.


Semantic Saturation – Paradigms
Posted by: Rocio Flores – 08 Aug. 2018

Some years ago I came across a debut album that, together with wooing me, changed too my by then narrow vision of what progressive metal really is all about, and therefore, in what direction it is moving forward nowadays. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to receive the band’s second album and from the hands of the mastermind himself; a man that I consider one of the future legends of progressive rock. Paradigms, by Semantic Saturation; is out now and I couldn’t be any happier about it.

Semantic Saturation is a progressive rock/progressive metal project founded in 2010 by Canadian guitarist Shant Hagopian, a man whose musical vision I personally find outstanding, and an artistic sense that, as an amateur musician, makes me sort of “jelly”. Besides being an outstanding guitar player himself, Shant has always taken good care on finding great musicians to interpret the rest of the instruments on his albums. In fact, he affirms that the idea to work with a different set of musicians on every album is one of the bases of his project. Paradigms features renown musicians such as drummer Craig Blundell and bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw throughout the whole album; and counts with the participation of special guests such as keyboardists Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento, and singer Houry Dora Apartian.

But let’s go back to the music itself. Though heavily influenced by his jazz background, Shant works hard to never stay in one place in terms of style. He wanders through different musical moods that are evident throughout the album and leave the listener feeling fulfilled, and recharged. Both, this and the previous album, give one the idea that the artist aims to starts musical concepts for each album from scratch and enjoys surprising his fans with unexpected roads. A visionary musician that is not only focused on impressing us with his mad skills, yet he is willing to transmit and let us “feel” himself and the rest of the musicians in his songs. Every track delivers a piece of his own soul, and the heartfelt interpretation by all allow us to feel related to what we are listening, to recognize each of our own emotions on those melodies, those notes, without the need for words. The songs tell stories as clear and sincerely as words could, and sometimes even better; something that many virtuosos have sadly forgotten when aiming merely to break speed records.

First track Mirrors of Confusion builds up the level of energy with one of the most vivacious funky guitar riffs I’ve heard lately. Carrousel of Death comes heavier, bringing a great display of jazzy melodies, a truly entertaining track to which you just can’t simply stay unresponsive. Since here the evidence is clear. Everything on the album flows smoothly; in one word, delightfully.

Pareidolia turns out to be much more melodic, a very enjoyable track, perfect for turning up the volume and jump on your bed while playing air guitar. Not that I tried it. *coughs uncomfortably*

Empty Whisky Jar, as the name may somehow reveal, is a slow-paced and melancholic track that happens to feature the mesmerizing voice of singer Houry Dora Apartian, doing some kind of smooth jazzy improvisation, that transmits such raw energy that it’s hard to believe it is a recorded sound. Some soulful guitar solos make of this track one of my favorite in the whole album.

The progressive vibe grows strong in the next track. The Stranger from Andromeda features some really cool sounds effects and luscious thrilling guitar riffs and solos. Until We Meet Again is to me the most relaxing track in the whole album. Derek Sherinian keyboard work shines exceptionally throughout Ulterior Harmony, a track much more energetic than the previous one, the virtuoso’s great work intertwines with Shant’s guitar creating some kind of cool proggy riff off that leads to a great display of both, neat technique and soulful interpretations.

Disturbance Within is a trippy, heavy yet slow-paced rock piece, that right after transforms into chaos and rage. Universal starts with a lonesome and gloomy keyboard that evolves into another rich progressive rock track. Another laidback track that besides changing the mood once again, also briefly features a harmonica interpreted by Shant’s Wife, Nanor Wazirian.

Finally, Where Dreams Have Died, is the longest one in the album, and maybe the most complete in terms of styles. It has unsuspected changes coming all through while keeping the fluency, delivering heavy riffs in between its beautiful chaos. By the way; those bells ala Super Mario Bros at the end… Brilliant.

To conclude, it’s undeniable that Shant has the rare ability to transport you to your deepest emotions with his compositions and his playing. Paradigms has the raw vibe of smooth improvisation yet feels also completely professional and neat. You can close your eyes and almost see the musicians playing their hearts out right in front of you and that honesty is palpable in every single track of the album. For a progressive rock/progressive metal fan, Paradigms is a must have; for a jazz fan, a refreshing musical treasure; for anyone with working ears, an interesting finding and door to the modern progressive genre.



Review on Angry Metal Guy

A new review published on Angry Metal Guy web ‘zine.

Paradigms is chock full of excellent, inventive compositions, with a healthy range of genres infusing the album with their particular flavors.


By GardensTale On August 23, 2018

Semantic Saturation – Paradigms

Welcome to Psych 102! Today we discuss the phenomenon of semantic saturation, or satiation. Ever hear a word so often it just becomes a sound and loses all meaning? Let’s try it here! Read this out loud, focusing on the sound of the word: juxtapose. Juxtapose. Juxtapose. Juxtapose. Juxtapose. Are you feeling it yet? Syrian/Canadian guitarist Shant Hagopian was, and he was feeling it with music rather than words. Developing an acute allergy to repetition, he decided to create a band with a focus on variety, resulting in the instrumental band Semantic Saturation. Then, a few years later, he took it to the next level by replacing all the band members for the second album Paradigms. At least he’s consistent with his theme.

There is one common thread across the album: Hagopian was trained as a jazz guitarist, and it shows. Though his aim towards varied music is a generally successful one, borrowing from progressive rock and metal as well as blues and post-rock on occasion, the undercurrent is always jazz-fusion. The resulting amalgam is a more restrained and coherent cousin to Liquid Tension Experiment. But while LTE often seemed bent on cramming as much show-offiness (vocabulary patent pending) into an album as humanly possible, Hagopian has a clear vision toward tracks with an internal consistency, keeping the music dynamic without becoming random for the hell of it.

That’s not to say there is no show-offiness (it’s gonna catch on, I swear) to be found on Paradigms. I don’t think such a thing is possible on an instrumental album fronted by a jazz guitarist. But with such diversity as the choppy Steve Vai electro-experiments of “The Stranger from Andromeda,” the sultry jazz-blues of “Empty Whiskey Jar,” and the various bendy Joe Satriani solos strewn across the album, there’s no help but admiring the skill on the six-string. What’s more, the album sounds crystal clear, with drums as natural as though you were in the room with them and a smoothly thrumming bass of which every note rings true. Thankfully, neither is at any point entirely outshone by the guitar, in spite of its clear protagonist role. The solid production and sensible compositions result in an album that feels whole, not like a competition between its performers. Not every instrumental record can lay claim to such an achievement.

As much as I enjoy the album, I miss the real peaks, the moments to get well and truly excited about. There’s not one single reason for this restraint on my enthusiasm. Perhaps it is a result of the angle of variety, the compositions spreading themselves too thin to be honed to their very maximum. Maybe it’s the lack of a tension arc within the compositions, lacking any real sense of climax. I might simply be less receptive to instrumental albums. Whatever the case, it certainly doesn’t break Paradigms. The gamut of styles it employs ensures that boredom never has much chance to set in, making the record if not a masterpiece, then at least a joy to listen to from start to finish.

A good album, even an instrumental one, depends on more than a versatile and talented guitar player. Hagopian seems to understand this, and he gets to shine as much as can be reasonably expected as the lead guitarist without vocals to compete with. Paradigms is chock full of excellent, inventive compositions, with a healthy range of genres infusing the album with their particular flavors. Though short in real climaxes, I never felt averse to spinning the record just one more time. Completed by a lush production, Semantic Saturation proves itself a capable project, and skillfully avoids the yawning pits of show-offiness (third time’s the charm.)

Album Launch & Listening Party – Live on Facebook

NEW ALBUM ‘Paradigms’ OUT NOW!

We’re doing a live stream on Our Facebook page today, (Monday, August 20, 2018). We will be listening to the new album together on an online video call with Kristoffer Gildenlow, Craig Blundell and myself Shant Hagopian, while we chat with you and answer your questions.

Monday, August 20, 2018
10:00 am Pacific Time (PT)
1:00 pm Eastern Time (ET)
6:00 pm UK Time
7:00 pm Central European Time (CET)

On our Facebook page


Paradigms Review in Dutch on RockMuzine and Esther’s Rock Blog

A new review in Dutch by on Rockmuzine online magazine and on Esther’s Rock Blog.
Esther gives the album a very high rating of 92/100

Semantic Saturation always know how to surprise me.



Shant Hagopian is een gitarist uit Canada. In richtte hij 2010 het prog rock/metal project Semantic Saturation op. Het idee achter het project is om op ieder album met een andere line-up te werken.
‘Paradigms’ is het tweede album. Hier werkten hele bekende proggers aan mee onder andere: Craig Blundell (Frost*/ Steven Wilson), Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex Pain of Salvation).

Het intro van ‘Mirrors of Confusion’ zou net zo goed een intro zijn van een blues-rock track kunnen zijn. Als de metal elementen naar boven komen weet je dat we wat anders voorgeschoteld krijgen. De metal wordt niet alleen met rock afgewisseld, maar ook met rustige stukjes. Zoals verwacht is het drumwerk zeer goed. De verdeling tussen ritme en melodie is prima. Deze openingstrack sterft heel mooi weg.

‘Carousel of Death’ heeft een strakke start. Er komen enkele hoge, elektronische klanken bij. Het ritme wordt afgewisseld met melodie. Er zijn veel wendingen, met bijvoorbeeld trompetspel dat een jazzy twist geeft. Door de hoeveelheid wendingen kom je bijna oren te kort. De opbouw is complex, toch weet Shant er een pakkende melodie en ritme in te verweven. Dit blijft aangenaam in je hoofd kleven. Met vlagen wordt er snel en strak gespeeld. Even later, soms zelfs tegelijkertijd, drijft de melodie boven. Zelfs de rusten zijn mooi gespeeld. Deze track heeft een gaaf einde.

‘Empty Whisky Jar’ heeft een rustige, chillende start. Ook hier zijn alle instrumenten in balans. De zang klinkt voornamelijk als instrument, maar is een prima aanvulling. Deze track blijft dromerig van sfeer. Voor het eerst is het einde is minder verrassend. Hoewel.. op het einde zijn de hele kleine details leuk toegevoegd.

Aanvankelijk heeft ‘Ulterior Harmony’ een pakkend ritme. De snaren zorgen voor de rock, die langzaam zwaarder en sneller wordt. Weer zijn er de onverwachte wendingen en combinaties die je eigenlijk zelf zou moeten horen. Hoge tonen van de toetsen worden door elkaar gehusseld, of juist afgewisseld, met de zware snaren. Deze soms merkwaardige of onrustige mengelmoes is prima uitgebalanceerd. Het tempo ligt hoog, terwijl de melodie behouden blijft. Dit alles is goed verdeeld over de koptelefoon. De gave zeer uitgebreide opbouw naar het einde is experimenteel van aard. Naadloos loopt dit over naar ‘Disturbance Within’. Na een rustige, experimentele start volgt een portie stevige rock. Weer is het gitaarwerk om je vingers bij af te likken. Elektronische klanken zorgen voor een sferisch einde.

Steeds weet ‘Semantic Saturation’ me te verrassen: In ‘Universal’ met pianoklanken. Er is een verandering naar meer rock, waar even vleugje Latijns Amerikaanse sfeer in zit. In dit stuk zitten volop wendingen. De piano keert voor korte tijd terug. Ook in het rustige deel zijn de laagjes prachtig verdeeld. Er is een plotselinge twist naar rock. Dit bevat een gaaf basloopje. Kortom, er is zo veel om naar te luisteren. Weer zit de opbouw naar het einde zeer goed in elkaar.

Ook ‘Where Dreams Have Died’ zit fantastisch in elkaar. Naar het einde toe wordt het mysterieuze stuk steeds zachter gespeeld, totdat je bijna niets meer hoort. Dan is het stil. Maar… de muziek keert terug. Dit duurt slechts een paar seconden, super wat een verrassend einde. Deze laatste track is een epic, wat een gave afsluiter.
Het artwork gemaakt is gemaakt door Shant, en ziet er zeer professioneel uit. Hij is bijzonder getalenteerd, dat heeft hij laten zien en horen. Want ik heb veel moois gehoord. Regelmatig was ik onder de indruk van het sublieme gitaarspel van Shant. Hij heeft, samen met zijn tijdelijke team, een zeer goed album gemaakt. (92/100) (Eigen beheer)