Ryan Lee – Vocals, guitar, electric piano
Cameron Martin – Drums, vocals, percussion
Sam Bryant – Bass
2.) Hard Times
3.) To Be Whole
4.) Death After Life
5.) Free Rain
7.) Ounce Blues
9.) Gotta Get Away
“I’m a little bit country…I’m a little bit rock and roll…”
Crypt Trip’s Haze County is an album that gives an immediate and not -entirely- accurate impression. Opening track “Forward” starts up, and the listener is hit with an earful of pure, undiluted…country music? The sliding guitar, the twangy, honky-tonk sound, it’s all there. The Independent Voice certainly reviews a wide range of material, but I’ll admit, this is not what I expected to hear.
However, this element should not be over-emphasised, and that introduction track can be a tad misleading. It’s not a total bait and switch, and this country music influence does remain throughout the rest of the album, to some varying degree. But for the most part, Crypt Trip represent another addition to the growing (and welcome) ranks of throwback 70s rock, not dissimilar to the works of bands like Graveyard, Rival Sons or Horisont.
While I haven’t experienced the band before, there’s plenty of mention of heavy psychedelic rock in their prior works. That is certainly present here, but in this record the Texans are perhaps letting it take a back seat for something a bit less Blue Oyster Cult and a bit more ZZ Top or Lynyrd Skynyrd.
But setting aside this possible tonal shift, how good is the end result? Well, the answer is…it’s okay. In direct comparison to peers like the aforementioned Rival Sons or Graveyard, Haze County feels lacking. There’s a certain pedestrian predictability about it, feeling closer to a tribute to classic icons rather than truly following in their footsteps. Not that those other bands necessarily break new ground, but they are at least writing interesting songs within that style. Haze County struggles to shake that air of “heard it before”.
There are some definite highlights though. “To Be Whole” has a fun, bouncy pace, almost hearkening to Focus’ “Hocus Pocus”, though not so eclectic. “Free Rain” benefits from the same sensation of a band cutting loose, and makes good use of more forceful, impassioned vocals, lively drumming, and a real feeling of belting down the highway. The slow down in the middle of the song is greatly effective, turning into a full stop that feels like a car sailing off a cliff edge…before landing safely and streaking off again.
Too often, Haze County feels like it’s playing things too safe when it should be bold and adventurous, and while it might be a personal preference, I also feel the country aspect of the music doesn’t do them any favours. It’s never quite so overt as the intro track, but it is often present. Still, it’s not bad for what it is, even if I prefer my throwback classic rock to be a bit on the heavier or more dynamic side.