Led Zeppelin. We might as well get that elephant out of the room to start with. Robert Plant has jokingly commented that he hates Greta Van Fleet for ripping off his old band. Which is somewhat ironic considering their own track record for getting sued over not giving others credit.
With that said, vocalist powerhouse Josh Kiszka certainly sounds like Plant in his early 70’s prime and the music on last year’s “From the Fires” (billed as a double EP, including the 4 songs from debut EP “Black Smoke Rising”) hardly brought anything new to the table. It included covers of Sam Cooke’s soul classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Meet on the Ledge” by folk rockers Fairport Convention but even those ended up sounding almost as Zeppelinesque as their self-written material.
There’s hardly anything new under the sun on “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” either, this being their proper debut album, but it can’t be denied that these young boys from Michigan does have proper talent. As opening track “Age of Man” includes the line “lands of ice and snow”, I think it’s also safe to say that they’re tipping their hats to Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.
“When the Curtain Falls” was picked out as the first single and I’d concur that this is a stand out track on the album. “Lover, Leaver”, “Mountain of the Sun” and “Brave New World” are other songs that does show some promise for the band’s future. Album closer “Anthem” is not a cover of the Rush classic but rather a fairly bad attempt at a folky tune in the vein of “The Battle of Evermore” or something off “Led Zeppelin III”. Josh Kiszka does however venture into the shrieking vocal territory of the young Geddy Lee at times. This is not meant as a compliment in this case. “What year are we in?”, Mike Patton once commented while putting Wolfmother down. I can only imagine what the Faith No More frontman would think of Greta Van Fleet.
Sam Kiszka, the brother playing bass (Jake Kiszka is on guitar while drummer Danny Wagner joined the brothers in 2013), has pointed out that this can be seen as a concept album addressing both ecological concerns and the themes of hate, greed and evil. “Why can’t we all be one?”, he asks, and while my review may sound a bit harsh I would still say that anyone with interest in bluesy 70’s hard rock could do worse than giving them a listen.
This is one for fans of bands like Rival Sons, The Answer and The Temperance Movement. And anyone who has worn out their old Led Zeppelin records, obviously. Those who dismissed Lenny Wolf for sounding too Zeppelinesque back on those early albums with Kingdom Come, however, they will probably want to stay well clear.
Artist: Greta Van Fleet
Title: Anthem of the Peaceful Army
Date of release: 2018-10-19
Stand out track: When the Curtain Falls