I can proudly say that Greta Van Fleet is a local band. Not only are they from Michigan, but they’re from a town just up the road. Anthem of the Peaceful Army is a solid debut album from a young band, and it’s a fun trip to a time long ago.
I did not know Greta Van Fleet existed until this spring. At work, I mentioned to a coworker that Jack White’s latest single was stuck in my head, and the lyrics were tumbling around my mind. All too appropriately, the song was “Over and Over”. In response, my coworker says that he’s been jamming out to a local band’s EP. Naturally, I went home and looked up this mysterious Greta Van Fleet band he had spoken highly of.
My first impression, after listening to “Edge of Darkness” was that they sounded kind of like The White Stripes. Admittedly, this was a little off, because after listening to more of their music, it was obvious that Greta Van Fleet had embraced the glistening parts of classic rock.
Overall, I think this is a solid debut album. The tracks are dripping with “old-school” swagger, snazzy guitar riffs and groovy bass lines. Oh, and then there’s Josh Kiszka’s vocals, which are pretty fantastic for such a young individual.
The album has few songs that I labeled as “filler” on my first listen through. Anytime a band has little fat on a finished album, I’m always cheerful. For a debut album, I think this is an achievement. Besides this, the only “criticism” I have, is that this album doesn’t offer a fresh take on the genre. The album is “fresh” insofar as it’s new and the band members are all under twenty five years old. But, the songs feel like they’ve been done before.
However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Classic rock” as a category of music is fun, and more importantly, it’s foundational to other genres. Without it, we might not have other staples. While this record feels familiar, I think it’s good to have a new band on the scene dusting off an older style of music.
Most of the tracks feel like an ode to some sub genre of classic rock. There are a few dashes of spacey, stoner rock and some blusey elements mixed in with a whole lot of blistering riffs. The songs reflect this diversity quite well. There are a few ballads, a few fast songs that scream “single”, and then there are a couple of more mid-paced tracks
“Age of Man”, the opening track, fits this later category. On my first go through, I noted this as an odd track to kick off the album with. Its not exciting, like “When the Curtain Falls”. There aren’t flashy riffs or tight fills. Rather, it’s more atmospheric and relaxed. It feels like a Rush song. Guitarist Jake Kiszka told Mlive that “[i]t’s very epic in the way it opens and goes along. Once it was recorded, we said ‘This has to be the opening track of the album.”
Songs Worth Investigating
“When the Curtain Falls” is everything fun and thrilling about rock from a by-gone era wrapped up into a tiny package. Another short description might read: soaring vocals, that tower over everything else, coupled with sleazy riffs.
The title track is another good one. “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” features a very timely chorus that begs for us to come together and simply “agree to disagree”. While they stop short of saying that we should all “listen to the music”, they channel some of the same insight as The Doobie Brothers.
And to Conclude…
Greta Van Fleet’s debut album is solid. Anthem of the Peaceful Army is a return to a grand era rock ‘n’ roll. I enjoyed the prominence of the bass guitar and the groovy rhythms Sam Kiszka offered up. Of course, the rest of the band carried their weight, as I mentioned throughout the review. Perhaps now, Birch Run will be known as the home of a young rock band, in addition to their elaborate Christmas store and German themed tourist attractions.