Rock’s back. The comeback, kid. It’s now or never, Us and or Them. Which side are you standing on?
Regardless of what you think Greta Van Fleet are all in. Music is what they do. They’re serious about the business end too. They want to be on top.
Anthem Of The Peaceful Army starts with the band throwing everything they have into a single moment. ‘Age Of Man’ is their triumphant dawn. Or so they would have you think. Sometimes it’s a little hard to join them in the fray. Simple fact of the matter is that there’s so much bombast here GVF can be a little overwhelming at first.
Their sound is something you have to adjust to. No question about it. There’s touchstones in classic rock but this is music for the streaming era it’s unlike anything which has come before. For every bit of them that was all too much the first time round this record is magnetic, you want to circle back. It takes a little time to adjust to a new idea.
They go for the jugular. But their best moments arrive when they’re just that little bit restrained and letting the pure rock undercurrents do the work for them. ‘When The Curtain Falls’ is the greatest example of what this band can do. The high watermark.
Not everyone in the rock camp can agree on this group. But most are united in the thrill of seeing this music – their music - on the charts as well as broadcast by and for another new generation. How many kids are going to pick up a guitar after listening to this band?
The worse thing people have to say about Greta Van Fleet is that they’re a little too close to their inspirations. A dominant media narrative is that they’re Led Zeppelin’s poor relations, xeroxes. Hackneyed, crass! Commercial and just a little unoriginal. But read the reviews of those early Zeppelin records. Jimmy, Rob, John and Bonzo? They were anything but critical darlings. What endeared them to history was that they sold, the recognition of their artifice came later.
As a spiritual presence rock has either been muted or absent for far too long. GVF’s Anthem is throwing the music to the masses. They sound vital, electric live and on record. They might be riding a wave - right band, right time – but there’s no shortage of broad human emotion. It’s in the hum of an electric guitar and the sound of vocalist Josh Kiszka raging so melodramatically the listener can’t help but sit up and pay attention.
For all the context and heritage they’ve absorbed, their music is in the moment. If you compare GVF not to bands who were born more than half a century past but those of 2018 they’re determinedly different. Speaking strictly in terms of the present, here is a band like no other.
Love them or hate them, with Anthem what’s unequivocal is that they’re here.
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
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