First Piece for Modern Rock Review: Greta Van Fleet

by Merry Mercurial

(a) You can rearrange “Greta Van Fleet” as “Fatal Genre Vet.” Have fun with this knowledge.

(b) SO excited to be writing for Modern Rock Review! Here follows the first part of my first review. Many bands have given me mixed feelings. These guys dropped my feelings into a Ninja and hit puree:

With a tambourine, train-howl moans, and that first “Woooooah-mama” from “Highway Tune” on their Black Smoke Rising EP, Greta Van Fleet essentially cannonballed into radio awareness. Their second single, “Safari Song,” dispelled whatever doubt lingered about their similarity to a band that hit late-1960s radio with an even greater splash: Led Zeppelin. That bracing parallelism has followed the band of brothers (and one friend) into every interview, every music critique, every fashion review of their on-stage feathers, vests, and ponchos. All of which leads to the question their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, is charged with answering: Does Greta Van Fleet have a worthwhile sound—and an identity—beyond the Zeppelin thing?


While the album’s original blueprint called for getting down songs the group had been writing for the last half decade or so, spontaneity won out. Anthem of the Peaceful Army — roughly 75 percent of it, at least—was conceived fresh during the 2018 studio sessions in Nashville, Tennessee. Production credits include Herschel Boone, Marlon Young, and Al Sutton, the last of whom seems an especially good match for a band enamored of a ’60s–’70s sound given his past work with Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Writing credit is shared among brothers Josh (vocals), Jake (guitar), and Sam Kiszka (bass) and their friend, drummer Danny Wagner.

“Age of Man” kicks off with the type of over-sincere but somehow touching melody that defines much of the album. The song, in fact, sets several standards: Josh Kiszka’s voice soaring to the meeting point of whistle and below, short bursts of high harmonic scat singing, and doe-eyed lyrics that describe Mother Nature at her harshest. The opening number also includes Greta Van Fleet’s closest brush with actually name-checking Led Zeppelin. In Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”; they came “from the land of ice and snow”; in “Age of Man,” it’s onward “to wonderlands of ice and snow.”

Read the rest at Modern Rock Review.