GRETA VAN FLEET
"Anthem of the Peaceful Army" (Republic; 2018)
Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton
For some time now there's been a huge buzz a'brewin' for Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet. They released their debut EP, "Black Smoke Rising," back in April 2017 and there's been a slow burn ever since, with the release of a second EP in October 2017, an acclaimed performance on Jimmy Fallon's show, and winning the Loudwire Best New Artist award. And it all culminates in the the October 2018 release of their full-length CD "Anthem of the Peaceful Army." The only question remaining is was it worth the wait? The good news is that it was. "Anthem of the Peaceful Army" is an album that will be celebrated for its freshness while at the same time being enjoyed for its familiarity. Confused? Well, allow me to explain:
There's a website called The Beatles Never Broke Up. You can find it at (strangely enough) http://thebeatlesneverbrokeup.com/. According to the story there, a hiker was chasing his dog and tripped in a rabbit hole, falling and knocking himself unconcious. When he awoke, he found himself in a stranger's home. The stranger explained that the hiker had somehow fallen into another universe, where travelling between alternate universes is an everyday occurence. They talked for awhile, particularly about a cassette on the stranger's book shelf. It was an album by The Beatles, "Everyday Chemistry," which had been released in the early 2000s. "How is that possible?" the hiker wanted to know. The stranger explained that, in his universe, the Beatles had never broken up, and "Everyday Chemistry" was one of their later albums.
The story goes on, with the hiker eventually stealing the cassette and bringing it back with him to this universe. You can actually download it and listen to it yourself at the website mentioned above. But this review isn't about The Beatles, this review is about Greta Van Fleet, and this is how that weird website ties in.
Because if Led Zeppelin had never broken up, if they were still releasing new albums today, I think that it would be very similar to Greta Van Fleet's "Anthem of the Peaceful Army."
Now, you may not think that with track one, "Age of Man," a mid-paced tune that simply set the stage for what's to come. But by halfway through track two, those Zep influences are flying, everything from the band's bluesy hard-rock sound to lead vocalist Josh Kiszka's high-pitched, Robert Plant-like wail. Throughout the rest of the tracks on this CD, those influences raise their welcome head often. As I said before, "Anthem of the Peaceful Army" sounds a lot like a brand new Led Zeppelin album, if those bandmembers had stayed together (and stayed young).
At this point, I know what you're thinking: "But R. Scott, you said this album would be celebrated for its freshness." And I believe it will. Because although Greta Van Fleet shares a lot in common with the mighty Led Zeppelin, I don't think they're trying to sound like them. I think that their sound just happens to be close to the Zeppelin sound, that the spirit of their music is in tandem with Led Zeppelin's. First of all, there's no "Lord of the Rings" lyrics here (at least that I've found). Second, Greta Van Fleet is young and hungry, something Led Zeppellin most definitely is not.
And, by the way, there are several tunes here that do not invoke the mighty Zeppelin. The aforementioned "Age of Man" and "Brave New World" both come immediately to mind, and both are great tunes ("Brave New World" more so than "Age of Man," if you're asking).
Look, I don't want you to think that I'm saying Greta Van Fleet is a carbon copy band. They are most definitely not. The music you hear on "Anthem of the Peaceful Army" is pure Greta Van Fleet, with their influences worn on their sleeve. Although I've read many other reviews that condemn the band for their similarity to Zeppelin, I don't feel that way at all. Instead, I feel like Greta Van Fleet is a band that's re-captured the magic of rock'n'roll and, seriously, what could be better than that?
For more information, check out http://www.gretavanfleet.com/.
A classic. This record will kick your ass.
Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.
So-so. You've heard better.
Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.
Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.
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Copyright © 2018 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.