My Global Mind reviews Solipsistic

And yet another review of Solipsistic on My Global Mind metal web ‘zine

Released by: Independent
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Progressive Rock

Line Up:
keyboards – DEREK SHERINIAN – Ex-Dream Theater special guest
vocals – ANDY KUNTZ

1) Ambivalence
2) Make Believe
3) Lost and Found: Insanity
4) Stardust
5) Blessing in Disguise
6) Armchair Activist
7) Point of Singularity
8) Time Is An Illusion
9) What If We All Stop

Now here we have a sensational Guitar Wizzard from Canada called SHANT HAGOPIAN. He was helped by established musicians such as drummer VIRGIL DONATI (STEVE VAI), bassist RIC FIERABRACCI (PLANET X) and guests DEREK SHERINIAN on keyboards (ex-DREAM THEATER) and vocalist ANDY KUNTZ of VANDENPLAS on 1 song. Together they recorded the brilliant first album ‘Solipsistic’ of this project called SEMANTIC SATURATION.

The instrumental Progressive Rock/Metal is of an incredible high level, with of course the main focus on the amazing guitar work of Shant. He is not continuously shredding like some people might expect from such a gifted guitarist, because he is actually focused on playing these beautiful melodies on his guitar all the time, such as can be heard at best during the uptempo rocker “Ambivalence” and the ballad “Blessing in disguise”. Such material is belonging to the finest instrumental work available at the moment! Shant by the way is actually of Syrian/Armenian heritage, but is now settled in Canada, although if we go back in time to the year 2003, he played in a band called NU CLEAR DAWN, a fantastic Syrian Progressive Metal band, which released the album ‘Poem of a knight’ (review at: ).

That band was active in the city of Aleppo and if you follow today’s news every now and then, you will agree that it isn’t possible to live a normal life over there nowadays. Shant already left Syria 8 years ago and hopefully this incredible (almost) instrumental album will bring Shant a lot of success, because if there’s one solution to all the troubles in the world, then it is definitely music!

Semantic Saturation is a progressive rock/metal project founded by guitarist Shant Hagopian, featuring progressive metal gurus Virgil Donati (drums), Ric Fierabracci (bass), with guests; Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater – keyboards) and Andy Kuntz (Vanden Plas – vocals)

Shant Hagopian is a Canadian songwriter/guitarist, of Syrian/Armenian heritage. From 1996 to 2003 he specialized in Jazz guitar studies, and in 1997 he founded the progressive rock/metal band Nu.Clear.Dawn along with musicians in the Syrian city of Aleppo, as one of the first and very few bands to emerge out of the Syrian scene. Touring throughout the Middle East and playing in large festivals such as “Rock the Nations” in Istanbul along many international names like Pain of Salvation, Epica, Sentenced, Vanden Plas and more, their 2003 album “Poem of a Knight” which also was the first officially released metal record in Syria, received positive reviews from acclaimed webzines such as Metalstorm and the Metal Observer and others.

Shant moved to Canada in 2005 and recently started working on his solo project “Semantic Saturation” with the debut album “Solipsistic” which was released on January 21, 2013, featuring progressive rock and metal gurus such as drummer Virgil Donati, bassist Ric Fierabracci with guests; keyboardist Derek Sherinian (ex. Dream Theater) and vocalist Andy Kuntz (Vanden Plas).

Written by Gabor – Rating 8/10


Making of Solipsistic Artwork – part 1

I want to write about the album cover and answer some questions, who, how, why?

The album cover and artwork of Solipsistic was designed by my good friend Saad Fanari. Saad is an amazing artist, I met Saad at a record store back when I was in Aleppo – Syria, and the first thing I learned about him is that he’s a huge Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd fan, he’s very friendly, funny guy, fun to be with and he’s very passionate about art. I have shared the most exciting trip of my life (so far) with Saad, when we took the bus to Istanbul back in 2002 to see Dream Theater perform live for the first time during their World Tourbulence tour.

Solipsistic - making of the cover
A girl walking down a pathway in a corn field, with the sky in the background as a wallpaper.

When I moved away from Syria, I’ve been disconnected from a lot of my friends, but thanks to Facebook I’m back in touch with them again. Last year Saad launched a website showing most of his work, my first impression when I visited his site was a mix of shock, excitement, nostalgia and goosebumps! I never knew he had such hidden talent. At the time I was in the middle of composing and recording the album, so I immediately asked if he’d like to create the album cover for my project, of course he was thrilled to help.

I had a couple of ideas in my mind for the cover, but before I revealed my ideas I asked Saad to create something related to solipsism as it was going to be the main theme. He came back with a few designs that I really liked a lot, but they were missing something, the “album cover” element.

Solipsistic - making of the cover
A man fishing in the desert
Solipsistic - making of the cover
A very “Falling into Infinity” like design.

So we went back and forth working on different versions and new ideas until I spilled the beans and sent him some sketches I made of the ideas I had in mind. One of them showed an embryo in the mother’s womb, inspired by the classic Stanley Kubrick movie A Space Odyssey: 2001.the fetus doesn’t have an umbilical cord on the blue planet and the universe in the background, all inside a human brain. Unfortunately Saad couldn’t recreate this idea since he had already created a similar cover for another book that was going to be released soon.

Solipsistic - making of the cover
The Embryo without an umbilical cord on the blue planet inside a human brain.

So we had to move to my second idea which showed a person walking down the street. From this person’s point of view everything looked normal, the buildings the trees the people on the street, but from the viewer’s side you’d see that all the buildings are nothing but facades, the people have winding keys on their backs as if they were some kind of automatons, crew working in the far background taking down some buildings and erecting new ones, in short everything else is fake.
So Saad agreed to build on this idea and he did some modifications and added a lot of new elements and tiny details with hidden nuggets (easter eggs) which is something I love about releases and covers.

Maybe I should make another post in the future, illustrating the creation process of the final cover design, as it took us a few weeks to bring it to its final state.

Read Making of Solipsistic Artwork – part 2

Sea of Tranquility Reviews Solipsistic rating 4.5/5

Peter Pardo from the prog metal webzine Sea of Tranquility has reviewed and rated the debut album Solipsistic 4.5 out of 5

Here’s the full thing:

Semantic Saturation: Solipsistic

Here’s the latest progressive rock/metal all-star project, titled Solipsistic from the collective going by the name of Semantic Saturation, comprised of guitarist Shant Hagopian, drummer Virgil Donati, bassist Ric Fierabracci, keyboard player Derek Sherinian, and vocalist Andy Kuntz. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so, most of these names should be very familiar to you from their associations with Planet X, Dream Theater, Nu.Clear.Dawn, Steve Vai, and Vanden Plas among many others. The seeds for Semantic Saturation were first sown by Hagopian, a Canadian guitarist/songwriter of Syrian/Armenian heritage who became friends with Kuntz while their two bands Nu.Clear.Dawn and Vanden Plas played some shows together in recent years. When the guitarist showed interest in a new project, Kuntz was happy to help out, and after rounding up some stellar talent in the form of Donati, Fierabracci, and Sherinian, Solipsistic became a reality.

For the most part, the album is all instrumental progressive rock/metal/jazz-fusion, complete with thunderous, complex rhythms and wild guitar & keyboard exchanges. Most of the tunes rock, and rock hard, led by the amazing guitar skills of Hagopian, who really is a ‘super talent in waiting’ . He’s come up with some truly sizzling songs here that showcase the whole band, so look for instrumental tracks that are actual ‘songs’, complete with memorable melodies and riffs that stick in your hand, while the instrumental brilliance of the musicians is used to highlight the songs rather than steal the limelight and make this a chops fest. Take a song like “Lost and Found: Insanity” for example, which has a great melodic hook and some really catchy guitar & keyboard riffs, which make for an incredibly memorable song. While there are some tasty solos for sure, it’s the main themes of the song that really hook the listener in, not just the shredding. Hagopian & Sherinian make for a great team, and hearing them tastefully play off each other is a complete joy. Donati is as incredible as always, turning it up a notch on the more aggressive songs but holding back just enough on the laid back jazzy/prog numbers, like the gorgeous “Stardust”. If there is one disappointment here, it’s that Kuntz only appears one one track, the epic closer “What If We All Stop”. He’s at his best of course, as the song ranges from atmospheric prog to bombastic metal. A couple of the tunes here would have sounded great with vocals (“Time Is An Illusion” instantly comes to mind), but if the one-song teaser with Kuntz is any indication of what all these guys can do together, it really leaves the door open for something spectacular in the future.

What that future holds for Semantic Saturation is anyone’s guess, but Solipsistic is of such high quality that I can envision any fan of instrumental prog-metal & fusion soaking this right up and wanting more.

Track Listing

1) Ambivalence
2) Make Believe
3) Lost and Found: Insanity
4) Stardust
5) Blessing in Disguise
6) Armchair Activist
7) Point of Singularity
8) Time Is An Illusion
9) What If We All Stop

Added: February 7th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score: ??4.5 / 5
Related Link: Band Website
Language: English


Solipsistic Reviewed and Rated 9/10 on Spanish Webzine

Spanish fans please proceed to reading.
non Spanish speakers please use Google Translate.

SEMANTIC SATURATION (Solipsistic) – Crítica

Publicado por Francisco Román Valverde el 7 febrero, 2013

Estilo: Progressive Metal
Sello: Independiente
Fecha: 21 de Enero de 2013
Nota: 9/10

Que es y quienes conforman SEMANTIC SATURATION? Eso mismo me pregunte yo cuando llego a mis oídos el álbum de esta banda llamado “Solipsistic”.

Investigando arduamente puedo contarles que se trata de un proyecto iniciado por un desconocido guitarrista que reside en Canadá desde 2005, de origen sirio Shant Hagopian. Estefue fundador de una banda de metal progresivo, también desconocida para mi de nombre Nu.Clear.Dawnsiendo la primer banda de metal de Siria que ha grabado un álbum de titulo Poem Of A Knight (2003). A el se unen nada menos que Derek Sherinian en los teclados (ex DREAM THEATER, BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION), Virgil Donatien la batería (PLANET X, RING OF FIRE, MARK BOALS), Ric Fierabacci en el bajo (HEMISPHERES, THE CHICK COREA ELECTRIK BAND, FRANK GAMBALE) y poniendo su voz en solo un corte Andy Kuntz (VANDEN PLAS).

Estos 5 músicos unidos nos entregan un metal progresivo muy en la línea de PLANET X, VANDEN PLAS, LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT y obviamente se alimenta de DREAM THEATER en grandes cantidades en sus composiciones, no por nada estos han sido los que marcaron el sonido del metal progresivo de los últimos 20 años, abriendo un camino que hoy en día es seguido por cientos de bandas y SEMANTIC SATURATIONes una de ellas. Y también vamos a encontrar guiños de unos YES o RUSH….nada se pierde amigos metaleros todo se transforma…

Con solo escuchar una vez este trabajo caí rendido a sus pies, y es que tiene los elementos necesarios para que provoque esto. Como es de esperarse en un trabajo progresivo y con las influencias antes mencionadas, el disco está plagado de continuos cambios de ritmo, arreglos instrumentales de lujo en el que cada músico logra brillar con su instrumento en todos los cortes. Si bien todos los tracks son instrumentales a excepción del último, cada uno habla por si solo, logrando transmitir un mensaje único oculto en sus melodías. El despliegue técnico realmente asombra e impacta por su calidad y mortífera precisión. Por momentos suena duro y potente y en otros calido y delicado en cada una de sus notas. Siempre conservando en cuanto a calidad una línea que se mantiene a lo largo de todo el recorrido del álbum, sin decaer un solo segundo haciendo que mis oídos estén atentos a cada nota, acorde, cambio de tempo o atmosfera que guarda cada pista de este magistral redondo.

“Ambivalence” da el puntapié inicial y lo hace con mucha fuerza. El corte se destaca por la dureza que descarga la guitarra en su riff de gran porte y sólido continuamente acompañado por una percusión excelente con el respaldo del bajo que está siempre muy presente a lo largo de todo el tema. Las melodías que se desprenden de las seis cuerdas de Hagopianson geniales y por supuesto Sherinian no se iba aquedar atrás entregándonos tres solos de distintas texturas uno más cautivante que otro. Un comienzo muy alto con la banda totalmente entregada.

“Make Belive” es un corte más melódico que el anterior en cuya parte central vamos a poder escuchar un fascinante y prolongado duelo entre Hagopiany Sherinian seguidos con mucha eficacia por DonatiyFierabaccicombinando un excelente gusto por las melodías y demostrando una calidad en la ejecución de sus instrumentos simplemente asombrosa, sobre todo la de este joven y desconocido guitarrista que es admirable como a perfeccionado su técnica si escuchamos su disco del 2003 con Nu.Clear.Dawn.

Comenzando con unos teclados sintetizados muy de fines de los 70, de ritmo tranquilo, alternando momentos muy dulces con otros mas duros y rústicos, siempre salpicado por los punteos de Shant, “Lost And Found Insanity” es un corte no tan complejo y elaborado pero que sobresale en su simpleza, sus fascinantes sonoridades y los corrompidos sonidos que aporta Dereksobre el final.

“Stardust” pose todos los ingredientes en su justa proporción que un amante del buen metal progresivo espera encontrar, cambios de ritmo uno tras otro, lluvia de solos, un despliegue rítmico de los tambores para aplaudir, un bajo con vida propia que se mueve a la par de los solistas, todos fusionados te llevan en un viaje a media velocidad a través de paisajes sonoros increíbles. A mi gusto uno de los cortes mas sobresalientes de esta producción.

“Blessing In Disguise” es la balada, emotiva y profunda que logra calar muy hondo con sus dulces melodías. En este caso Derek y Shant se van cediendo el trono de los solos una y otra vez luciéndose de manera sobresaliente los dos en cada una de sus interpretaciones tanto en esta pista como en la totalidad del álbum, siempre dentro de un marco de calidad técnica altísima.

Levantamos la temperatura de la mano de la hard rockera “Armchair Activist” que lleva el inconfundible sello DREAM THEATER, con una base rítmica musculosa y potente sobre la que se mueven los numerosos y elaborados solos de Hagopian. Corte relativamente sencillo pero que transmite mucha fuerza con la cual conquista rápidamente rematando un final a toda maquina.

“Point Of singularity”es un delicado corte puramente acústico, que mas que cautivar con sus ritmos y melodías te ponen en un estado de trance, también gracias a las geniales atmósferas de fondo con aire místico y sideral logran transportarte a otro dimensión. En determinados momentos me recuerda a los YESde principios de los 70’s. Para disfrutar en absoluto silencio y no pensar en nada.

“Time Is An Illusion”nos vuelve a llevar por terrenos netamente progresivos en el que cada músico es un engranaje que se acoplan en perfecta sincronización, cada uno funcionando independientemente y demostrando su importancia dentro de esta gran maquinaria, pero que cuando se unen permiten que el gran navío bautizado como SEMANTIC SATURATION navegue por aguas de variadas intensidades demostrando a estas alturas que son una banda para mirar con respeto y admiración.

Llegando al final nos encontramos con “What If We All Stop” el único corte de este disco que es cantado y su voz la aporta el conocido Andy Kuntz. Si bien no es un mal cantante no es de los que más me agrada ya que siempre encontré su voz un poco plana y sin brillo pero su trabajo aquí es más que bueno. Mezclando pasajes melódicos con secciones mas densas y rítmicas siempre bañado por los magistrales arreglos de cada uno de sus componentes la banda se despide de esta travesía progresiva con un sólido corte que reúne lo mejor de cada miembro adornado por la voz de Andy.Un cierre de altura para un álbum que va a dar que hablar.

Solipsistic es un álbum complejo, muy bien trabajado, de sonido cristalino, con una producción impecable que cuida hasta el más mínimo detalle. Va ganando sabor con cada escucha, ya que cada vez que se le da play aparece algo nuevo para degustar. En cuanto a estilo y sonido no aporta nada nuevo pero eso no le resta puntos en absoluto al momento de apreciar la enorme calidad de esta producción tanto en sus composiciones como en el trabajo de cada uno de los músicos. Es el tipo de álbum que para poder disfrutarlo y abarcarlo en su totalidad yo diría que es necesario escucharlo cómodamente acostado en tu habitación, luz baja y dejarte cautivar por su enorme espíritu musical.

SEMANTIC SATURATION comenzaron su recorrido con el pie derecho, queda esperar que nos deparara en futuras entregas, que pulan y hagan más personal su sonido y nos vuelvan a deleitar con una obra del porte de su actual ópera prima….por el momento a disfrutar de este Solipsistic.


Shant Hagopian – Guitarras
Virgil Donati – Bateria
Ric Fierabacci – Bajo
Derek Sherinian (special guest) – Teclados
Andy Kuntz (special guest) – Voz

02.Make Belive
03.Lost And Found Insanity
05.Blessing In Disguise
06.Armchair Activist
07.Point Of singularity
08.Time Is An Illusion
09.What If We All Stop

Semantic Saturation – FACEBOOK

Autor: Hernán Dalmaso