Review: Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Greta Van Fleet have disrupted my music listening habits in a good way. They’re one of the bands that really inspired me to look more into this decade for more great gems. I live for Greta Van Fleet. They give me hope.

I first heard about them on Instagram. So many people were talking about this band with an interesting name and after hearing their name for the umpteenth time, I had to listen to see what they’re all about and what I heard lived up to the hype. Let’s dive right into the album review and context.

Who are Greta Van Fleet?

I can’t talk about a band on my blog without a little bio. Greta Van Fleet were formed in Frankenmuth, Michigan, a town in between Saginaw and Flint. They are made up of brothers Josh, Jake, and Sam Kiszka and friend Danny Wagner. Their name comes from the name of a local named Gretna Van Fleet. The real Gretna Van Fleet was cool with the name.

They released a Live EP in 2014, which you can’t find on Spotify, but you can find some songs on YouTube. Really impressive stuff, like I can’t believe they were still in secondary school when they recorded that – definitely worth the listen.

They had a minor breakthrough locally when one of their songs was used in local adverts for the 2014 Chevy Equinox.

I'm from Michigan

Can’t resist referencing the 2004 classic Mean Girls whenever possible. Lots of great rock acts hail from Michigan: ? and the Mysterians, Bob Seger, MC5, Grand Funk Railroad, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, The Stooges, Death, Rodriguez, and more. Of course, Michigan is where the famous Motown label got its start. And now Greta Van Fleet.

Greta Van Fleet had their real breakthrough in 2016, when their song “Highway Tune” was featured in the show Shameless. In 2017, some of their singles became available on Spotify and iTunes. Apple Music named them new artist of the week on 21 April 2017 and the next month they opened for The Struts, what a show – wish I could have been there! At the end of the year, they released their EP, From The Fires.

Greta Van Fleet absolutely fit into this blog because the members have diverse music tastes and influences. Jake likes rock and roll, while Sam is partial to jazz, Danny gravitates toward folk, and world music is Josh’s thing. They primarily are inspired by the classic rock and blues greats like John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, John Bonham, and Michael Shrieve.

Context: From The Fires

I got into the band and I saw they had one EP out, called From The Fires. It begins with a hard rock guitar riff and lead singer Josh Kiszka’s Robert Plant-esque yell on “Safari Song.” Already won me over and brings me back to my days when I was starting to get into Led Zeppelin and all of that sounded so fresh. Whoa… This is what music needed. It’s one of those awesome albums where the two strongest tracks are the bookends. Love that.

Most of the songs are originals, except for “A Change is Gonna Come” (a Sam Cooke cover) and “Meet on the Ledge” (a Fairport Convention cover). Their approach to these songs is fresh and I like how they made “Meet on the Ledge” their own, giving it a hard rock energy.

For me, the EP is pretty much perfect. I can listen to it from start to finish without skipping. I can even put the songs on repeat if I want. My favourite tracks are “Safari Song”, “Flower Power”, “Talk on the Street”, and “Black Smoke Rising”, but there are no weak songs.

The EP was a success for the band, topping the Hard Rock charts in the US and certified as gold in Canada. “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song” also did well on the rock charts.

With how much I loved this EP, you know I’d be looking forward to what’s next for the band and today they released their awaited album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army – a very rock and roll title.

Review: Anthem of the Peaceful Army

This album has 11 tracks and they’re all new. Some of the songs: “When The Curtain Falls”, “Watching Over”, “Lover, Leaver”, “Anthem”, and “You’re The One” were released as singles ahead of time to tease the album. I tried not to listen to them early on so that way I can go into this review fresh. Sadly, I didn’t order this album on vinyl because I have a trip to Florida coming up and I gotta save money.

Ultimate Classic Rock reports that the band wrote the album in a haunted cabin, giving it that spooky, Halloween like vibe that fits well into the time of the year it was released in.

“Age of Man”

Mixes hard rock and prog elements, giving me that kind of space feel to set the scene for the album. If you like Rush, you might like this song.

“The Cold Wind”

This song is more energetic and like their more Led Zeppelin inspired stuff on the EP. Since I like that side of their sound, I would say this is one of the stronger songs on the album.

“When the Curtain Falls”

One of the singles released ahead of the album. Excellent track and I understand why this Zeppelin inspired song was released as a single. When I listened to it as part of the album, I enjoyed it even more, but that’s because I’m an album kind of girl – I like the whole package of the music and I like getting the context that way. This song makes me feel powerful and puts me in a good mood, a confident mood. Don’t skip it, play it on replay.

“Watching Over”

A slower song than the previous two, very bluesy. Has some sitar like guitar effects, so I totally get the world influences.

“Lover, Leaver”

Another one of the songs released as singles ahead of the release. I definitely listened to this song before the album was released and it made me look forward to this album. Definitely one of the stronger tracks on the album. I think you can tell at this point I live for their Led Zeppelin-esque sound.

“You’re The One”

A more acoustic, slower song. I like hearing this side of Greta Van Fleet and it’s good that this album isn’t just one note all the way through. We stan a versatile band. I also understand why this was a single, the latest one.

“The New Day”

Love the acoustic intro. I think this is one of my favourite album tracks that wasn’t released as a single. Another great guitar solo on this song.

“The Mountain of the Sun”

Wow. I think this has to be my favourite intro on the album and that’s a difficult choice. I love the effects on the guitar on this song. This is how I like my love songs, simple beautiful lyrics and with hard rock music. From what I read, this is one of their earlier songs.

“Brave New World”

I love the lyrics of this song, really takes me to another place. Of all the songs on the album, I’d say this one has one of my favourite lyrics, only behind “Anthem.”

“Anthem”

This was one of their singles and I like how well-rounded the singles that were released are. They are a good representation of all the sounds of the album. This song is another one of their more acoustic, softer songs.

It’s giving me hippie vibes and sounds like something you can sing or play around the campfire. A good anthem for uniting people in such polarising times like 2018. Reminds me that during some really bad times politically, some great art comes out – you need some sanity and music is what keeps me sane in times like this.

“Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)”

A great way to end the album – on a strong note. A longer version of the earlier track. Parts of this song remind me a bit of The Doors.

Final thoughts

Wow. This was an incredible album and one of my favourites of the year. What a debut album. A reminder that rock isn’t dead. I definitely want to get it on vinyl. Can Greta Van Fleet come to Ireland please? 🙏🇮🇪

Highlights in my opinion are: “When The Curtain Falls”, “Lover, Leaver” (longer version), “You’re The One”, “The New Day”, “Mountain of the Sun”, and “Anthem”. There are a lot of highlights and you can’t go wrong with any track. This is on my Perfect Albums list, no question about it.

Can’t wait for more music from Greta Van Fleet!

Shout out to my good friend and Topaz level Patron, Patrick.

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