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Album Review: Hanni El Khatib Is Hard Psychedelic Rock In “Savage Times”

Psychedelic rock can “go hard”, but not necessarily. Frankly, I have never associated the genre with a “harsh” sound, but in rock n’ roll this term is encompassing of the brazen guitar  melodies and abrasive atmosphere this genre incurs. Hanni El Khatib matches the abstract ideas and sonics of psychedelic rock with the force and fearlessness of hard rock in Savage Times. 

First, let me pronounce how much I appreciate Khatib for giving the world 19 tracks. Savage Times is a long record, which makes it worth the buy. I do not know when 9 songs became the casual norm in the industry, but, when money is tight, people want more music. Savage Times is a full record with 19 songs that sound as if Hanni El Khatib is coming in to your face, and confronting you on all the “BS” you have played apart of in this world. “Gonna Die Alone”, “No Way”, and Till Your Rose Come Home” are just a few examples, of Khatib’s ability to see his role in the world, for both negative and positive. His lyrics of self-loathing or self- sabotage are hard-hitting and rough, which is typical of hard rock. This genre was born from the frustrations one can feel with him or herself socially and spiritually. Yet, there are moments such as in “This I Know” and “Black Constellation” when you wonder if Khatib’s tears wrote his lyrics and melodies. Each is twinkled in pain, desperation, but also resilience to prove that his past mistakes have been amended in his more “healed” present. Hearing such raw honesty and hope match both the hedonistic and heavenly aspects of his being makes you tune into Khatib’s voice that is filled with restraint, rasp, and reverberations.

Khatib’s voice sounds like a man trying to put a cap on an overflowing bottle of emotion. He drips over his synths and instrumentals like a spilling burst of sentiment. You want to hear the chaos brewing in him in songs like “Born Brown”, “Paralyzed”, and “Hold Me Back”. Yet, you do not want to hear to gloat, but because you sentimentally understand. Khatib makes his lyrical demons relevant and relatable, which is why even in his most “savage times” you hope he meets his or an angel, even if its at “1AM” or to “freak freely”. Still, none of his emotionality would be as potent or poignant if not for the sonics backing him. Khatib draws from jazz, funk, R&B, and soul like they are spices he pours into his sonic soup. As he swirls his ingredients together, you smell and even see the flavors he used to brew this delicous meal. Moreover, “swirl” is a good term describe how these sounds surround the listeners. You cannot help but feel in songs like “Miracle” and “Peep Show” as if you have fallen into a whirlpool of rhythms that go around you; tempting you to catch one. For More Information On Hanni El Khatib And To Buy Savage Times On February 17 Click Here.