Greta Van Fleet return with a refined and nuanced sound on their second album, ‘Anthem of the Peaceful Army’
October 26, 2018
The neoclassic Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet have finally released their long-anticipated follow-up to their 2017 debut album “From the Fires”. Within the past year, this band has seen their following grow tenfold from the release of their first studio EP “Black Smoke Rising” in April of 2017 to playing over 50 dates and festivals on their upcoming tour all around the United States, U.K., and Australia.
From the very start of their eruptive rise to popularity, Greta van Fleet’s classic rock revivalist sound has been donned as the “modern Zeppelin” or “Led Zeppelin junior”. From lead singer Josh Kiszka’s howling vocals to his lead guitarist twin brother Jake keeping the guitar solo alive in the modern day, critics and fans alike have continuously likened the band to the revered Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Their ostentatious clothing and grandiose stage presence show the image they’re aiming to create: personifying classic 70s rock in the modern age.
Although the archetype that they’re trying to follow is obvious, the band has definitely begun to branch out and evolve from their more cut-and-dry, subdued first album on “Anthem of the Peaceful Army”. As opposed to most of their songs from their debut album being distinguished by caterwauling vocals and lengthy guitar solos, it’s clear that they’ve experimented more on this album with varying musical techniques such as a higher emphasis on bass and drum solos, new slide guitar sounds, and even incorporating some tracks that could be categorized along the lines of a ballad.
The opening track of the album, “Age of Man”, begins with some dramatic isolated vocals, slowly climbing to a higher tempo and intensity. This is definitely a song suited for an opening track, and sets the defining theme for the rest of the album to follow. Josh Kiszka’s soulful belting vocals go in tandem with bringing out the triumphant, coming-of-age theme of the lyrics.
The second track, “The Cold Wind”, falls straight into the category of unadulterated rock pleasure. Other songs like, “When The Curtain Falls”, “Watching Over”, and “Brave New World”, from the album seem as though they were created solely for the purpose of an on-stage jam session that is a sure way to energize a crowd. Josh Kiszka himself has even said while introducing “When the Curtain Falls” live that it was written purely for the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.
Some of the more experimental and less mundane tracks that were unexpected from the album include the upbeat, almost sing-songy tracks such as “Mountain of the Sun” and “You’re The One”. One attribute that specifically makes “Mountain Of The Sun” unusual but good is the touch of Jake Kiszka’s twangy slide guitar opening the track and later on in his solo, and the bridge later on in the song highlights drummer Danny Wagner’s skills with an unexpected combination of drums, the tambourine, a cowbell, and Josh’s vocals. “Mountain Of The Sun,” is undeniably a unique, upbeat song that pushes the boundaries of most other Greta Van Fleet songs. Along with the peppy and lighthearted track “You’re the One,” they’re showing much more musical versatility than their usual heavy, harder-rock songs.
Other less intense songs from the album such as “The New Day” and “Anthem” focus heavily on acoustics to exude a more buoyant and jovial feeling. “Anthem” itself can possibly even be categorized more on the side of a slow ballad, keeping a subdued tempo throughout the track.
Then there are two of the more definitive songs of the album, “Lover, Leaver,” and the extended version, “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)”. These tracks have a definite prominence about them that highlights them as some of the defining and tracks from the album and are bound to be one of the most popular. “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” is sure to be a crowd pleaser to play live, especially for the lull at the bridge of the song that leads to a dramatic build-up, and has even lasted for 26 minutes in one live recording they’ve released playing the song on tour already.
All in all, on this album, Greta Van Fleet have definitely taken risks and pushed boundaries on the limits of finding their sound. As still very young artists with only two studio albums out, they show immense potential in introducing the current generation to unfiltered rock music and allowing the older generation to revel in the times of classic rock. Of course, no artist will ever be able to emulate the monumental impact that Led Zeppelin had on the history of music itself, Greta Van Fleet seems to be paving a path for their own unique legacy with their changing and evolving sound with this solid second album.