Album Review: Greta Van Fleet’s ‘Anthem Of The Peaceful Army’
By Scott Baumgartner.
For an album to break through in 2018, it has to be infectious, hit-filled and formulaic enough to appeal to the widest possible demographic. However, Greta Van Fleet toys with these concepts or abandons them altogether when composing music. Which makes their debut album, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army, a deep gulp of fresh air.
Don’t get me wrong, the Michigan four-piece knows how to cook up a hook, or a guitar lick that will have you stomping your feet. But they’re not playing by the rules of 2018. Instead, they’re slowly navigating sounds and textures across a vast, psychedelic spectrum of crunchy chords, howling vocals and dizzying percussion. And yet, this impressive collection of songs is bound to stay with you from the first listen.
GVF kick things off with “Age of Men,” a gritty ditty showcasing Joshua Kiszka’s soaring range and Jacob Kiszka’s sonic exploration. As with their previously releases, the lyrics hint at mythology and downright-epic imagery. The production is rougher around the edges this time round. They aren’t polishing every progression, they are confidently capturing a raw, palpable idea that they have spent years perfecting.
Next up is “When the Curtain Falls,” a sexy, snarly anthem once again harkening to guitar gods of yesteryear as Joshua effortlessly conjures Robert Plant at his most defiant. It is followed by “Watching Over,” a brooding bluesy diversion that is equal parts ominous and introspective. Before long, “You’re The One” makes its way into the fray pouring out a disarming melody that aims to live among some of rock’s most near and dear tracks. And, frankly, it just might.
Also featured on the album’s second half is “Brave New World,” which is far more optimistic than the dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley. “A silent child climbs a mound of char,” Joshua sings. “Where he plants a seed that grows beyond the stars.” Despite the lofty imagery, it has no less bite. The song is full of moody arrangements and explosive, twisted riffs. Filling out the album is “Anthem,” a lovely acoustic rumination bursting with hope and promise. It would do the likes of Cat Stevens proud.
On display on Anthem of the Peaceful Army isn’t merely catchy wordplay and addictive chords, it also has a staggering musicianship that isn’t the currency of the land in 2018. And that’s what sets the album apart.