Album Review: Greta Van Fleet, Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Photo by Travis Shinn

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

There has been a resurgence in rock ‘n’ roll music this year with the mainstream audience. It is called Greta Van Fleet. The young lads of Frankenmuth, Mich., have been a tremendous act to follow. The group consists of 3 brothers (lead vocalist Josh Kiszka, guitarist Jake Kiszka, and bassist Sam Kiszka) and a family friend (drummer Danny Wagner). When I heard their first single, “Highway Tune,” I thought I was listening to a new Led Zeppelin record. They are strongly influenced by virtually one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands ever formed. Josh has Robert Plant’s husky style voice, while Jake plays riffs like Jimmy Page. Although, they have been polarizing as well because some people see them as a rip-off Zeppelin cover group. The way I see it, Greta is helping light a fire under the belly rock by reminding us what great rock music sounds like. After releasing back-to-back hit EPs, they have finally released their highly-anticipated debut, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, which was released by Republic Records. The question is: does it live up to its anticipation?

Photo by Travis Shinn

We kick things off with “Age of Men.” It has a mid-tempo beat with some raw guitar licks. Josh howls into the mic with such passion. The energy is there, but it is a bit mellower compared to their earlier stuff. Next comes “The Cold Wind,” where things start to roll. It has a rocking beat that sounds like it belongs on the Physical Graffiti record, full of revolution and angst. “When the Curtain Falls” is the first single off the LP and it is close to topping the rock charts. I love how in sync Jake and Sam are on the guitar and bass, respectively. Josh never lets up on his high octave range, soaring as high as Plant. “Watching Over” slows things down a bit with a tasty blues riff. Sam plays my favorite bass beat off Anthem of the Peaceful Army, giving the song an ominous yet beautiful overtone. “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” is by far my most favorite song, and is their strongest in terms of songwriting and musical content. Josh evaluates the song to astounding heights, holding that howl in the middle of the song. Wagner channels his inner John Bonham to deliver a simple yet heavy beat. Jake does a masterful job with innovative solo and riffs.

Things take an unexpected turn with “You’re the One.” A soft rock ballad that showcases Greta Van Fleet’s sensitive nature. They pen a love/hate ballad about asking a temptress to come back, despite her evil nature. Breaking out the acoustic, Jake strums into our hearts with this blues riff, while Sam goes into the keyboards that gives the song a spiritual feel. Continuing down the ballad pathway, “The New Day” offers a sweet, folksy upbeat blues lick that hopes to bring sunshine back into our lives. It also features a cool retro guitar solo. “Mountain of the Sun” has a bit of a country rock vibe, as if they went into the Eagles playbook to mix it with their Zeppelin influence. It is another love song, but it is more of a hopeful love compared to despondent nature of “You’re the One.” Jake continues to amaze me with his guitar skills, adding a slide guitar in there. Josh tones down the howling, making himself more vulnerable.

Photo by Travis Shinn

Things start to go dark with “Brave New World.” It’s a song about ending corruption and defeating hate, but in a dusky overtone. I enjoyed the sonic change in the song, especially the way Josh sings. The lyrics rolls off his tongue strangely yet hypnotically. Next to “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer),” this is my second favorite track. I will admit, “Anthem” took a couple of tries for me to come around to because I originally saw it was not the strongest song. With a folk beat, they end it on a sweet note. Makes me want to hand flowers to most beautiful woman in the world, whoever she may be. Sam plays a funky beat, while Wagner goes into a hand percussion style. It also features a chant of the chorus, kind of like what John Lennon did in “Give Peace a Chance.” It took a while, but I am digging it.

Overall, Greta Van Fleet delivered to the masses the quintessential rock album of 2018. Anthem of the Peaceful Army not only could they continue their smoking hot riffs and howls, they can bring us to a place of happiness and hope. Despite being strongly influenced by Led Zeppelin, these kids are the ones who are going to revitalize rock ‘n’ roll and bring in new fans. I love their Zeppelin style, but I would like for them to steer away from that and come with something totally unheard of before. The 1970s style of rock is back! To Greta Van Fleet, I salute you. Horns up!!! 9/10

1. Age of Man
2. The Cold Wind
3. When the Curtain Falls
4. Watching Over
5. Lover Leaver (Taker Believer)
6. You’re the One
7. The New Day
8. Mountain of the Sun
9. Brave New World
10. Anthem

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