Review: Greta Van Fleet Save Rock On Anthem of The Peaceful Army

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Photo by Lauryn Schaffner

Whether you are a fan or not, there is no denying it – Greta Van Fleet is one of the most talked about rock bands of 2018. We said back in the fall of 2017 when we interviewed singer Josh Kiszka at Louder than Life that they were going to be big (see interview here). They have since sold out shows all over the world within minutes, had two number one singles, opened for Guns N’ Roses, and were even personally invited by Sir Elton John to perform at his AIDS Foundation Oscars-Viewing party. Needless to say…they are pretty damn big now.

We can assure you that the release of their full-length debut Anthem of the Peaceful Army, which is just under two weeks away, is going to make them even bigger.

If you are not already familiar with the members that make up Greta Van Fleet – we have Josh Kiszka on vocals, Jake Kiszka on guitar, Sam Kiszka on bass, and Danny Wagner on the drums.

The record opens with “Age of Man.” With a soft but progressive beginning, we eventually hear Josh’s crisp vocals come in for a few lines before it drastically builds into an existential audial journey. I’ll admit, my initial reaction to the intro was a bit skeptical as I usually prefer a more energetic start to an album, however once the song matured into its full self I was hooked. As the six-minute opener came to a close, I was fully anticipating what the boys had in store with the rest of the album.

“The Cold Wind” starts with a swampy guitar riff and is packed with a contrasting level of energy to that of its predecessor. The next three, “When the Curtain Falls,” “Watching Over,” and “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” were all released individually prior to the album, and in that order. “Lover, Leaver” is the highlight of the three, with a catchy melody and complex metaphorical lyrics in the verses. Everyone gets a fair share of the spotlight too – Sam and Danny’s rhythm section are heavy behind Jake’s subtler riffs, until we get to the solo, where we can also hear Josh wailing in the distance. This song alone proves that the band took the songwriting process more seriously when making this record than they had on their first batches of tunes.

“You’re the One” is another highpoint, with a similar vibe to “Flower Power” off of their first EP. It’s a romantic ballad characterized by acoustic guitars, organs, and gentle vocals. “The New Day” and “Mountain of the Sun” are two feel-good pieces that don’t necessarily stand out as much as the previous ones, but still work well to keep the varying sound flowing rather than blending. “Brave New World” is slower, heavier, and more mysterious. Finally, the album closes with “Anthem,” another pre-released, acoustic and free-spirited track with inspirational words, but not quite as magnificent in sound as the title would suggest.

Greta Van Fleet has truly delivered with this debut. It’s more complex than their previous works, it’s diverse in sound, it’s worldly, and it’s all original. A truly gratifying listen from start to finish. Anthem of the Peaceful Army comes out on October 19.