Greta Van Fleet is a name I’ve heard bouncing around over the last year, along with the taglines attached of Led Zeppelin rip-offs and the alternate saviors of rock. This bunch of late teens from Michigan, U.S.A. have really got the rock world in a spin and I can see why right from the first track of their debut album Anthem of the Peaceful Army. The title itself suggests a hippy 70’s vibe from the off and first track “Age of Man” does nothing to dissuade from that vibe.
It starts off with a true 70’s vibe, filled with the sound of flutes and a very Robert Plant-like wail. The sound of each instrument is clear and truly 70’s authentic sounding, all that’s missing is the crackle of the vinyl as the needle hits the grooves. It’s a good start to an album with a strong track that builds and builds towards the next, which is “The Cold Wind”, a track which is filled with Jimmy Paige guitar riffs, the pounding rhythms of a John Bonham and the shrill oh yeahs! of Robert Plant. This is a great track very upbeat and really shows the expertise of these very young musicians.
“When the Curtain Falls” has that early blues influence all over it, the same blues that inspired Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. The guitar work is intricate and meaningful, the beat just pounds away and the bass is just punching holes throughout. The chorus is the strongest work yet on the album and the track as a whole goes in so many directions throughout. “Watching Over” reminds me of “House of the Rising Sun” at first when the verse begins, you can hear the similarity in the melody line. The chorus rocks early 70’s Aerosmith style just plodding and kicking everything it comes across and the guitar solo and sound is so soulful.
“Lover Leaver” jumps straight out of the speakers and instantaneously reminds me of Zeppelin‘s “Whole Lotta Love” but thankfully evolves as it progresses. It all goes crazy around the 2-minute mark as the drums roll in and punch the air in the room sending small dust particles shimmering into the sunlight. “You’re the One” begins with a nicely played acoustic track along with what sounds like a Moog playing underneath. We’re definitely in ballad territory here but again a 70’s type almost country sounding ballad, it’s like Zeppelin crossed with the Black Crowes. This is full-on feelgood country rock.
“The New Day” again kicks off with acoustic leading the way accompanied by a thudding, rolling drumbeat and as the chorus hits an almost choir-like backing vocal floats in. Vocalist Josh Kiszka really shows off the power in his voice on this one an uncannily sounds so much like a younger Robert Plant. They must have been using some authentic 70’s equipment on this whole album because they have definitely captured the era without a doubt.
The slide guitar opening of “Mountain of the Sun” is a nice change to everything we’ve heard so far and when the song kicks off proper it fills every space around it like a kaleidoscope of notes. I love this track, undoubtedly the best thing on an already fantastic record. “Brave New World” is full of Sam Kiszkas plodding bass lines that really come forward in the mix and ages this track nicely along with the ethereal backing vocals that emerge from the monitors. The acoustic-led “Anthem” follows with it’s sweetly strum guitar and equally sweet vocals. The lap steel guitar sits so well into the chorus along with the bongos, tambourine and everything else they’ve thrown in for good measure.
Finally, we come to “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” which again sounds a little like Zeppelin‘s “Whole Lotta Love”. The only thing that differentiates this from that track is all the intricate fills. All I can say is this is a fantastic album that has certainly plagiarised Zeppelin among many other bands from the 70’s classic rock era, but that’s not totally a bad thing. Personally, I’m happy to hear a band finally take the 70’s back and thrust it into the new millennium. This is a band that rock needs in its ranks right now and it was undoubtedly time for a change, great stuff guys!!!
Anthem of the Peaceful Army is out now on Lava Records.