Prog Metal Zone is your online source for progressive metal news, reviews and band info. Publsihed by Jeff Stevens on Jan 25, 2013.
Read the full review below.
Last month we previewed the new instrumental metal album Solipsistic by Syrian guitarist (now living in Canada) Shant Hagopian’s new project Semantic Saturation featuring a seriously amazing cast of musicians: keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Planet X and a ton of great solo projects), all-world drummer Virgil Donati, bassist Ric Fierabracci and on the final cut, the vocals of German prog metal band Vanden Plas’ Andy Kuntz. With this kind of firepower, I was thinking that this first album by Shant’s project would be a lot like Derek Sherinian’s stellar metal fusion project Planet X but boy was I wrong! Instead, Shant, despite his chops (which he does display from time to time on Solipsistic has opted for an album filled with great expressive melodies, fluid guitar solos and just enough head-banging heaviness to make it the first great instrumental rock/metal album of the year.
The album kicks off in high gear with Ambivalence, a heavy song that features some great high-energy solos by Shant and Derek Sherinian. Make Believe is a mid-tempo number with wonderful melodies throughout. Lost and Found is a beautiful ballad that has a slight electronica backdrop. Stardust could be my favorite track on the album. It starts as a relaxed, somewhat pensive piece but quickly kicks in with some incredibly emotive solos over some of the heaviest chord work on the album before concluding with some wonderfully fluid and beautiful guitar solos as well as a great, understated piano solo by Sherinian. Blessing in Disguise is a really beautiful ballad that features some excellent legato playing from Shant. After the last couple of fairly relaxed songs, we next get the high-energy Armchair Activist which is about as close to a Planet X style of balls-to-the-wall high-energy metal fusion that you’re gonna hear on the album and features a fantastic (but too damn short!) bass and drum duo before concluding in a joyous high-energy chops-fest. After a couple of more pieces, the relaxed electric/acoustic Point Of Singularity and the high energy metal fusion of Time Is An Illusion, the final piece, What If We All Stop is the one vocal cut on the album and features the great, expressive voice of one of my all-time favorite singers, Andy Kuntz. It’s a great epic song that clocks in at almost nine minutes and, in the best prog metal tradition, builds from a slow, powerful opening to a majestic, uplifting finale. I love the song and I think I’d really like to hear more vocal cuts on the next album as I think Shant’s style of songwriting works really well with vocals.
So if you’re looking for an album of pure shredding, Solipsistic ain’t gonna do it for you but if you’re looking for beautiful melodies, tasteful expressive soloing, a wide variety of tempos and moods along with some great use of heavy textures then this is definitely the album for you.