After two albums of fairly conventional fuzz musing, Crypt Trip aims for a more overtly southern style for Haze Country. Such influences aren’t uncommon in stoner rock, but the Texas-based group has taken a step further than most, showcasing elements of country rock. The opening two-minute prelude, appropriately titled “Forward,” indicates this shift right off the bat with a series of twangy guitars set to an almost frolicking tempo.
Getting into the album itself, the musicianship works with the style quite nicely. The guitars carry much of the weight, providing a mix of busy riffs, electrifying speed runs, sparse acoustics, and longing pedal steel leads. From there, the rhythm section puts in some energetic performances as the drums make for a flexible but hard-hitting foundation while bass support is persistent throughout. There’s a sunny atmosphere and the structures are often loose and jammed out, no doubt reflecting influence from the Allman Brothers Band among others.
On the flip side, this approach can make for some rather jumbled songwriting. The vocal lines are often pushed to the wayside and the emphasis on busy instrumentation doesn’t exactly make for many hummable hooks, resulting in songs that aren’t as memorable as they could be. Fortunately, the album gets some direction in the second half as tracks like “Workshot” and “16 Ounce Blues” show off some solid character while “Gotta Get Away” closes things out with the album’s most climactic instrumental work.
While Haze Country would’ve benefitted from some tighter songwriting, there’s no denying what this sort of stoner country rock sound has to offer. The musicianship is incredibly impressive, offering relentlessly energetic playing and an overall bright disposition that can make up for the somewhat unspectacular tunes that they’re built around. This material was definitely written to be performed live but would fit nicely on a Skynyrd playlist, even if it won’t replace anything on it anytime soon. Either way, southern rock fans should get a kick out of it and I can only hope for even better developments in the future.
“16 Ounce Blues”
“Gotta Get Away”