Album Review: Anthem of the Peaceful Army, Greta Van Fleet

A&E, News

After bursting on to the new rock scene with energy taken straight from decades past, Greta Van Fleet is back again with Anthem of the Peaceful Army.

Just under a year after a wildly successful EP titled From the Fires, the Frankemuth, Michigan, natives strike again with their first full-length release. The album, initially released on Oct. 19, contains 11 tracks and sees the band staying with Republic Records.

Greta Van Fleet on stage at the Red River Valley Fair, West Fargo, North Dakota, July 14, 2017. Photo by Troy Larson.

The album opens with “Age of Man,” a slow and steady tune that makes use of strings and flute as well a healthy dose of soaring guitar. This song eases listeners into the album and is almost deceptively calm, especially if listeners are expecting to be thrown rather than eased, a valid expectation with Greta Van Fleet.

“The Cold Wind” picks up the pace and pairs jangly lead guitar with excellent percussion work to create a solid second track that echoes the rock of the 1970s, though perhaps echoes it too much.

“When The Curtain Falls” dumps the throttle with a classic, Zeppelin-esque guitar line and vocals that toe the line between screeched and sung. This track was their first single, which enjoyed extensive rock and alternative radio play throughout the summer of 2018. “Watch Over” follows with a Skynyrd-style ballad that was most likely written to purposely show off the near-operatic tenor voice of front man Josh Kiszka.

“Lover, Leaver” presses on with howled vocals and thick guitar, all backed by an army of smashing percussion. “You’re The One” is more of the same, an upbeat rock tune that was specifically crafted to sound straight out of Led Zeppelin’s discography. “The New Day” is a very generic song, belying the influences of artists such as the Steve Miller Band and the Allman Brothers.

“Mountain of the Sun” is very similar to the tracks which it follows in the musical sense, with simple but heartfelt lyrics about admiration and love. It’s trustworthy, but not original in the least. The following track, “Brave New World,” displays creative guitar and vocal work which carries lyrics that warn of a bleak future for those who do not work to change the present.

“Anthem” is an acoustic jam, subdued and breezy, but not groundbreaking. Steel guitar and sitar line the undertones, and a choir provides backing vocals, but the song sounds like the sugar-free version of more than one song from the album Led Zeppelin III.

“Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” closes the album and quite honestly redeems it as well. It is essentially a reprise of “Lover, Leaver,” but it sews up the album wholly. Thus, Anthem of the Peaceful Army comes to a close with a storm of guitar riffs that create a strange hybrid of the bands own sound mixed with the influence of Jimi Hendrix and Cream.

Joshua Kiszka, frontman of Greta Van Fleet. Photo by Stefan Brending.

It is entirely possible that Greta Van Fleet has tried too hard. Though Anthem of the Peaceful Army is their first full-length album, it will never truly be their debut. Greta Van Fleet has pushed out a solid album, but has lost their way trying to grow too fast.

Though there is undeniable Led Zeppelin influence that permeates their music, From the Fires gave Greta Van Fleet a sort of alternative identity, a musical best of both worlds. Anthem of the Peaceful Army is a formidable rock album, but it is also evidence of an identity crisis that needs resolved if the band is to stay valid. Greta Van Fleet has come back strong, but needs to return to their own roots, not the roots of any other artist.

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