by Brandon Carson
What else is left to say about Greta Van Fleet that hasn’t been said? Do they sound like Led Zeppelin? Yes, absolutely. I remember when I heard ‘Safari Song’ from their EP ‘From the Fires’ for the first time and all I could think of was Led Zeppelin. In fact, I played the song for my friends and asked them to guess who it was; and who was their guess? Led Zeppelin. The influences of Zeppelin and 70’s rock are very much in the forefront for Greta Van Fleet, however with this album you can hear hints of their own sound come out. But unfortunately, it is mostly bogged down in their influences and choruses that aren’t memorable.
Fantastic riffs with melodic groove
If there is anything that ‘Anthem of the Peaceful Army’ does right, it’s the riffs. Guitarist Jake Kiszka proves himself yet again to be extremely talented. He knows his way around a guitar and uses plenty of technique that varies the songs to where they don’t all sound the same. ‘Mountain of the Sun’ is a highlight instrumentally on the album because of the slide guitar lick that carries the song. Another excellent groove comes from the track ‘Brave New World’, a very unique sounding song where Kiszka noodles his way around a moody chord progression.
What I expected from this album was more 70’s classic rock songs with catchy riffs, and that is exactly what was delivered. ‘When the Curtain Falls’ is a stand out track with a guitar riffs that comes out of the gates with a catchy riff. What this song does best is that it highlights the chemistry in the band. The riff is complimented with a very fun bass groove and melody by singer and brother Josh Kiszka. ‘The Cold Wind’ is another song where the band takes a riff and runs with it, making for a very fun verse. These fun verses are found all over the album and make for great changes of pace after the ballads on the album.
I do take issue with the choruses of most of these track however. They aren’t as memorable as they could be and really bog down some of the tracks in length. Take ‘The Cold Wind’ again for example, great riff and melody, but the chorus is nowhere near as catchy or memorable as the verses. The ballads on the album also do not have enough to be enjoyable the whole song.
Great production, but a lot of influence
Greta Van Fleet sounds a lot like Led Zeppelin. From Josh’s raspy, scratchy, high voice that sounds too close to Robert Plants, to the riffs and tone that sound right on the nose of Jimmy Page, their songs sound like Led Zeppelin B-Sides. It’s very hard to listen to this album and even their ‘From the Fires’ EP without thinking of Led Zeppelin. ‘Age of Man’ is smothered with atmospheric strings and an excellent chorus, and ‘Brave New World’ opens up with an inventive riff along with a fantastic chorus. What is frustrating is that these songs hint that Greta Van Fleet can make their own sound out of their influences. But unfortunately, the rest of the record’s sound is drowned so much in their influences that it sounds like an act, like they are trying too hard to be the next Led Zeppelin; which will never be achieved because of how much Led Zeppelin moved rock forward, and the amount talent in all of their members.
To quote the Apple Music description of the album, “If you missed Led Zeppelin the first time around and wondered what all the fuss was about, well, you’re in luck…”
What is to praise here, however, is the production of the album. Most rock music nowadays sounds very heavy with production, too clean, and too perfect. The production on this record sounds exactly like a 70’s rock album. It must have been extremely hard to achieve this sound, and really shows the virtuoso of producers. The guitar tones are balanced perfectly, and the bass and drums keep the groove all together. Credit is deserved in this aspect of the album.
Diamonds in the rough
If you listen to the album enough, you begin to appreciate the deeper cuts it has to offer. The opener ‘Age of Man’ proves what this band could be if they put more of themselves into their music. The vocals on this cut are stellar, the melody gets stuck in my head in the best way possible, and the atmospheric strings are a perfect match with the instrumental. Another unique song would be ‘Brave New World’. The song sounds unlike all the others on the record and changes pace in the best way possible. The melody of the verse feels completely natural with the guitar riff going on, and the chorus makes the song even stronger. The drums on this song stand out as well during the bridge. Drummer Danny Wagner, the only member who is not a sibling in the band, shows what he’s made of with an excellent use of ghost notes.
Unfortunately, two songs are not enough to hold up an entire album. Most of these songs just feel like abandoned Led Zeppelin songs that were cut from all of their classic albums. There are also two versions of the same song, one called ‘Lover, Leaver’ and the other called ‘Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)’. The only difference is on the ‘(Taker, Believer)’ version, there are three extra minutes of instrumental that don’t feel like enough to end a short three-minute song.
Age of Man
Brave New World
When the Curtain Falls
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Anthem of the Peaceful Army
On ‘Anthem of the Peaceful Army’, Greta Van Fleet cannot contain their influences, and in fact drown in them. There are a few hidden gems on the record, but it mostly feels like another Led Zeppelin B-Side album of songs from the 70’s. The production is very good, and there are fantastic riffs, but it’s not enough to carry the album.
Brandon Carson is a Journalism Major. He reviews music for Byte and also makes his own music on the side.