Paradigms Review on

Here’s the review taken from the site, see English translation below.

Paradigms (2018)
Semantic Saturation
Prog Metal
Cornless Unicorn
Durée : 56 Minutes

Par Jacques Dulac

Voici la chronique de disque du tout nouveau Semantic Saturation paru il y a 3 mois! C’est dans le style prog metal que le montréalais Shant Hagopian nous propose son tout nouvel album!

‘‘Un projet très abouti pour Shant Hagopian qui y démontre toute sa virtuosité, ses talents de compositeur et d’arrangeur.’’

Tout nouveau projet pour le guitariste montréalais Shant Hagopian qui récidive avec un second opus qui se veut la suite logique de Solipsistic paru en 2012. C’est appuyé par le batteur Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson) et le bassiste suédois Kristoffer Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation) qu’il nous propose un album qui sonne en partie comme le précédent. Il expérimente aussi d’autres genres musicaux comme pour la pièce Empty Whisky Jar avec la chanteuse Houry Dora Apartian qui se veut dans les mêmes eaux que David Gilmour pour le feeling qui soit dit en passant, est l’une de ses influences à la guitare.

Mirrors of Confusion, Carousel of Death et The Stranger from Andromeda tombent en terrain connu si vous avez écouté son album précédent Solipsistic. Vous ne serez pas dépaysés. Il démontre une grande maturité musicale avec la pièce Until we meet Again qui est très texturée et inspirée. Le claviériste Derek Sherinian fait aussi une apparition le temps d’une pièce intitulée Ulterior Harmony… un bon rappel à l’album précédent. Et à ne pas oublier la pièce fleuve Where Dreams Have died qui passe par toutes les ambiances avec ses moments planants mais aussi plus lourds.

Paradigms se veut être un projet très abouti pour Shant Hagopian qui y démontre toute sa virtuosité, ses talents de compositeur et d’arrangeur. Une qualité que j’aime de Shant, c’est que même s’il est comparé à Petrucci, Steve Vai ou Joe Satriani, il n’a pas tendance à trop en faire dans ses solos de guitare… il sait doser et pour cette raison, ce tout nouvel opus est une réussite sur toute la ligne.

Un album incontournable pour les amateurs du genre.

Pour se procurer l’album :



Paradigms (2018)
Semantic Saturation
Prog Metal
Cornless Unicorn
Running Time: 56 Minutes

8.5 / 10
By Jacques Dulac

Here is the record chronicle of the brand new Semantic Saturation published 3 months ago! It is in the prog metal style that the Montrealer Shant Hagopian offers us his brand new album!

“A very successful project for Shant Hagopian that demonstrates all his virtuosity, his talents as a composer and arranger.”

Brand new project for Montreal guitarist Shant Hagopian, who reoffends with a second opus that is the logical continuation of Solipsistic released in 2012. It is supported by drummer Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson) and Swedish bassist Kristoffer Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation) ) that he offers us an album that sounds in part like the previous one. He also experimented with other musical genres such as Empty Whiskey Jar with the singer Houry Dora Apartian who wants to be in the same waters as David Gilmour for the feeling that is, by the way, is one of his influences on the guitar .

Mirrors of Confusion, Carousel of Death and The Stranger from Andromeda fall into familiar territory if you’ve listened to his previous album Solipsistic. You will not be homesick. He demonstrates a great musical maturity with the piece Until we meet Again which is very textured and inspired. Keyboardist Derek Sherinian also makes an appearance the time of a play entitled Ulterior Harmony … a good reminder to the previous album. And do not forget the play Where Dreams Have died that goes through all the atmospheres with its hovering moments but also heavier.

Paradigms wants to be a very successful project for Shant Hagopian who demonstrates all his virtuosity, his talents as a composer and arranger. A quality that I love about Shant is that even if he’s compared to Petrucci, Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, he does not tend to overdo it in his guitar solos … he knows how to dose and for this reason, this brand new album is a success on the whole line.

An essential album for fans of the genre.

To get the album:

Paradigms Reviewed by Dutch Background Magazine

Pedro Bekkers wrote a review for Paradigms on Background Magazine.

Paradigms is the second outing of Semantic Saturation and it’s equally impressive as the debut


When I got to listen to Shant Hagopian’s second Semantic Saturation album; Paradigms I realized it was in 2012 that fell in love with Shant’s beautiful melodies and wonderful playing. Solipsistic (see review) became one of those albums that I came to play on a regular base, it never gets dull and remains an interesting musical journey, even after six years. In 2018 the time was right to release a new album and this time the accompanying musicians are as impressive as on the previous album. Besides Shant Hagopian, the core of the “band” are drummer Craig Blundell, well known from bands like Frost*, Lonely Robot and Steven Wilson. The Dutch/Swedish bass player Kristoffer Gildenlöw is famous for his participation in Pain Of Salvation, his solo works and is a member of the symphonic, progressive rock band Kayak. Guest keyboard players are the returning Derek Sherinian (Sons Of Apollo and many more) and Alex Argento (Icefish) who also produced the album. Where on the previous album Vanden Plas vocalist Andy Kuntz provided the vocals for one song, the sole vocal laden track on Paradigms sees Houry Dora Apartian as vocalist. Finally, Squiggy McFlannel is mentioned as trumpeter for on song.

All in all a line-up that stands for high quality musical craftsmanship, and indeed these thorough musicians are very able to take the quite impressive compositions to an even higher level. Musically there is a lot of diversity on the album; guitar driven compositions, where Shant lets his guitar do the talking. He is able to write melodic guitar lines that substitute lyrical parts on progressive rock albums, but also knows when to play heavy nasty riffs. Both opening tracks; Mirrors Of Confusion and Carousel Of Death are good examples for this approach. Even more intense is Pareidolia, a heavy romantic track with subtle Joe Satriani infulences. Empty Whisky Jar is the only vocal track on the album, smooth blues and jazz elements are blended to a delicate composition, where again the Satriani references are clear, but in a song that good old Joe would never come up with. Perhaps my favourite on the album is the heavy progressive rock/metal song The Stranger From Andromeda, a brilliant tune where the trio; Hagopian, Gildenlöw and Blundell show they really belong to the top musicians in the scene. Until We Meet Again is a solid ballad style composition, highlighting some fine bass playing and tender guitar parts, welded together by subtle drumming. Another intriguing piece of music. Derek Sherinian enters his signature playing to Ulterior Harmony, making this one a progressive rock song with a fusion touch, a kind of smoother and funkier Planet X I would say. Perhaps weird, but the song Disturbance Within gives me the feeling of post rock, especially in the guitar parts these elements are very noticeable; together with the rhythm section the combination of post a progressiveness results in a more than amazing composition. Another fine tune where Shant lets his guitar do the talking is Universal; a kind of classic rock meets prog is the result, including very fine piano parts. Could you refer to an instrumental song as an epic, if you can, Where Dreams Have Died is the absolute epic of the album, spheres and speed changes all over the place, but remaining brilliant for the full ten and a half minute. Another perfect track I guess.

Paradigms is the second outing of Semantic Saturation and it’s equally impressive as the debut, I think the use of different musicians does give the album a more progressive touch than the previous album. Which I think will win many true progressive rock aficionados, where the fusion freaks will still have their share of interesting parts. For me, this is another musical highlight in my collection.

-Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)



Polish Metal Web ‘Zine Laboratorium Muzycznych Reviews ‘Paradigms’ Rating it 9.5/10

Egon Klank reviews Paradigms and gives it 9.5/10 stars on the Polish online metal magazine Laboratorium Muzycznych
English translation can be found below.

An album that changes the essence of progressive metal. Hagopian is often compared to Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Believe it or not, none of them convince me emotionally as Hagopian does.


Semantic Saturation – Paradigms
Posted by: Egon Klank – 27 Aug. 2018

Shant Hagopian. Człowiek, o którym mało kto wie, a na, którego płytach zawsze udzielają się tuzy największego formatu. Człowiek, który muzyką przekracza wszelkie kulturowe bariery. Fascynujący debiut „Solipsistic” zebrał u mnie gromkie oklaski. Debiut przez tak niewielu oczekiwany, a robiący tak kolosalne wrażenie. Album, który zmienia wręcz istotę progresywnego metalu, często zawężonego do wąskich szufladek. Debiut Hagopiana to jedna z niewielu płyt, zwłaszcza pokroju tego gatunku, którą bez mrugnięcia okiem uznałbym za jedną z najbardziej wizjonerskich wśród progresji. Muzyk, jeżeli dziś nie wybitny, to z pewnością za takiego za kilka lat zostanie uznany. Tak ambiwalentny kunszt podparty takimi muzycznymi legendami i ich umiejętnościami jak świetna trakcja bezprogowego basu Kristoffera Gildenlöwa czy też chirurgiczna precyzja Craiga Blundell na najnowszej płycie dobrze rokuje.

Surowy klimat płynnej improwizacji utwierdzonej na skale doskonałej dynamiki i alergii na brzmieniową losowość. Do tego solidna produkcja oraz idealny balans instrumentarium. Gama stylów nie łamie może paradygmatów, ale zdecydowanie przybliża najnowszy dorobek Hagopiana do miana arcydzieła. Nie wiem, czy „Paradigms” przebija debiut. Być może tamtej był bardziej ekstatyczny i entuzjastyczny. Najnowszy zdecydowanie jest bardziej stonowany oraz wyważony, co też może wynikać z dość drastycznej zmiany obsady, ale jak zawsze całość jest doszlifowana do samego końca.

Twórczość Hagopiana to emocje rozszczepione na czynniki pierwsze, głównie dzięki solidnej interpretacji atmosfery każdej z kompozycji, które zawsze tworzą spójną muzyczną koncepcję. Trudno wyobrazić sobie bowiem lepszą identyfikację z utworem, jak dzieje się to za przykładem Dereka Sheriniana w Ulterior Harmony. Całość jest doskonale przemyślana. Hagopian nie błądzi, chociaż ciężko pracuje, aby jego albumy były heterogenicznymi obłokami niejednorodnych styli. Sterylność instrumentarium i technicznej konstrukcji nie zaburza jednak przesłania emocjonalnego (When Dreams Have Died). To jeden z utworów, który utwierdzają wiedzą kompletną w zakresie konstrukcji i mieszania różnych stylistyk. Słuchacz po tak wyczerpującej dawce wypełniających muzycznych nastroi musi być spełniony.

Systematycznie nakładające się na kompozycje warstwy tworzą materiał równie przystępny co skomplikowany dzięki inteligentnej konstrukcji utworów. Nie odurza ona słuchacza przepychem, ale stopniowym wprowadzaniem do kolejnych muzycznych wymiarów. Od akustycznej krotochwilności przez rozpaczliwość ballad, a na rockowo-orkiestracyjnych kohortach dźwięku kończąc (Universal). To nie wszystko! W Mirrors of Confusion dostajemy genialny funkowy rytm. Spore wrażenie pod względem budowania atmosfery i przestrzeni robi tripowy Disturbance Within. Do tego dostajemy ciężki, acz zaparty jazzowymi melodiami rozrywkowy utwór Carousel of Death czy też świetne melodie w Pereidolia. Melancholia zaskoczy nas w blusowym Empty Whisky Jar. Gorące progresje z efektownymi ornamentami znajdziecie w The Stranger From Andromeda. Ultrarelaksujący Until We Meet Again ukoi. Ta umiejętność zabawy dźwiękiem kojarzy mi się z Hagopianem najbardziej. Robi to nie tylko z niebywałą lekkością, ale i z piorunujące efektem ostatecznych aranżacji. Niektóre tematy rozwijają się w sposób całkowicie zaskakujący. Nieprzewidywalność utworów to jedna z podstawowych zalet, dla których do jego twórczości się wraca.

Hagopian porównywany jest często do Joe Satrianiego oraz Steve’a Vaia. Wierzcie czy nie, ale żaden z nich nie przekonuje mnie pod względem emocjonalnym tak jak robi to właśnie Hagopian, a o to w tej muzyce bardzo ciężko ze względu na brak lirycznego podkładu. Na nic jednak porównania. Universal przecież na ten przykład można podciągnąć oraz interpretować jako hołd formacji Camel z czasów płyty „The Snow Goose” (1975). Jego subtelność, delikatność oraz finezja tworzą naprawdę niesamowitą i unikatową całość i raczej nie należałoby tego konkretyzować w ramy znanych standardów, które pojawiają się raczej przypadkowo. Dobry album instrumentalny nie zależy od bicia rekordów prędkości, ale od wyczucia klimatu i wszechstronności. Te cechy Hagopian posiadł w całej ich synergii.

Twórczość Hagopiana dorasta jednak tak naprawdę ze słuchaczem. Trywialnym wydaje się pisać o tym, że album rośnie wraz z każdym przesłuchaniem, ale jego twórczość naprawdę tworzy coś do czego nie tylko wraca się z wielką przyjemnością, ale za każdym razem skłania nas ku innym zakamarkom tej brzmieniowej poezji. Niesamowita atmosfera, przy tych technicznych fajerwerkach rzadko kiedy ma tak emocjonalny wydźwięk. „Paradigms” to kolejne wyjątkowe i unikalne wydawnictwo. „Solipstistic” nie był dziełem przypadku.


Shant Hagopian. A man who is hardly known by anyone, and whose albums are always shared by the largest format. A man who transcends all cultural barriers with music. The fascinating debut of “Solipsistic” brought me thunderous applause. Debut for so few expected, and doing such a colossal impression. An album that changes the essence of progressive metal, often narrowed down to narrow drawers. Hagopian’s debut is one of the few records, especially the type of this genre, which I would have considered without blinking as one of the most visionary among progression. Musician, if not prominent today, it will certainly be recognized in a few years.

The harsh climate of liquid improvisation fixed on the rock of perfect dynamics and allergy to sound randomness. For this solid production and perfect instrumental balance. The range of styles does not break paradigms, but it definitely brings Hagopian’s newest output to the name of a masterpiece. I do not know if “Paradigms” is breaking through the debut. Perhaps he was more ecstatic and enthusiastic. The latest one is definitely more toned down and balanced, which can also result from quite a drastic cast change, but as always the whole is polished to the very end.

Hagopian’s work is emotions split into prime factors, mainly thanks to the solid interpretation of the atmosphere of each composition, which always form a coherent musical concept. It is hard to imagine a better identification with the song, as is the case with Derek Sherinian in Ulterior Harmony. The whole is well thought out. Hagopian does not err, although he works hard to make his albums heterogeneous clouds of heterogeneous styles. The sterility of the instruments and technical design does not, however, disturb the emotional message ( When Dreams Have Died ). This is one of the pieces that confirm the complete knowledge in the field of construction and mixing of different styles. The listener after such an exhausting dose of musical moods must be fulfilled.

Systematically overlapping layers make the material as accessible as it is complicated due to the intelligent design of the tracks. It does not dazzle the listener with glamor, but with gradual introduction to subsequent musical dimensions. From acoustic krotochwilność through the desperation of ballads, and on rock and orchestral sound cohorts ending ( Universal ). It’s not everything! In Mirrors of Confusion we get a brilliant funk rhythm. The trip Disturbance Within makes a great impression in terms of building the atmosphere and space . For this we get a heavy, though jazz-entwined tunes, the entertaining song Carousel of Death or great melodies in Pereidolia . Melancholy will surprise us in the bluesEmpty Whiskey Jar. You will find hot progressions with spectacular ornaments in The Stranger From Andromeda. Ultrarelaxing Until We Meet Again soothes. This ability to play with sound reminds me of Hagopian the most. It does it not only with an incredible lightness, but also with a stunning effect of the final arrangements. Some topics develop in a completely surprising way. The unpredictability of works is one of the basic advantages for which he returns to his work.

Hagopian is often compared to Joe Satriani and Steve Vaia. Believe it or not, none of them convinces me emotionally as Hagopian does, and it’s very hard in this music because of the lack of a lyric foundation. However, no comparison.Universal, for example, can be drawn up and interpreted as a tribute to the Camel band from the time of the album “The Snow Goose” (1975). Its subtlety, delicacy and finesse create a truly amazing and unique whole, and it should not be concretized in the context of well-known standards, which appear rather accidentally. A good instrumental album does not depend on breaking speed records but on feeling the climate and versatility. These features Hagopian possessed in all their synergy.

Hagopian’s work, however, really grows with the listener. It seems trivial to write about the fact that the album grows with each interrogation, but its creation really creates something that not only returns with great pleasure, but each time leads us to other nooks of this sonic poetry. An amazing atmosphere, with these technical fireworks, is rarely so emotional. “Paradigms” is another unique and unique publishing house. “Solipstistic” was not a coincidence.

Full Review

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.)