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Greta Van Fleet - The Battle at Gardens Gate Award winner

Greta Van Fleet
The Battle at Gardens Gate
by Kevin Lewis at 01 June 2021, 11:58 AM

GRETA VAN FLEET is an American rock band formed in 2012 in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Their breakthrough came early in their career with a number one single in 2017 off their debut EP. "The Battle Of Garden Gate" is their second full-length album and was released via Lava Records on April 16, 2021. The album reached number one on the Billboard Top rock and Top Hard Rock Album categories.

Having drawn heavy comparisons to LED ZEPPELIN with some of their earlier works, GRETA VAN FLEET has stepped out of that media driven shadow with their second record. There is a distinct classic rock influence to their sound, but trying to label it as one single band limits the overall impact of so many other bands from the same era. GRETA VAN FLEET is a modern classic rock band with their own blend of tones and textures that pay homage to all the greats, not just one.

From the first song, “Heat Above,” there is a theme on this record, and that is to build a collection of songs that just rock. With some heavy keyboard use, “Heat Above” brings the heat. Beginning with an almost church organ tone, the song features Joshua Kiszka spending a lot of time in his higher range and the band using some killer tempo shifts to support the lyrics. The background vocalizations add depth to the feel of the song.

My Way, Soon” was the first single released off the new record. With a gritty guitar sound and solid use of the rhythm section, the song is a catchy and a little quirky. The song is fun to hear and the guitar solo is well-paced and not over-powering. It fits the song well, showing the guys know how to create a song that has depth as well as good composition.

My early favorite on this album is “Broken Bells”. The tempo and tones used are just soothing, even though the lyrics a little dark There is a bit of sadness and melancholy to the tune, but it isn’t overpowering. Instead, it gives a little hope by saying, “Yet we still play the game”. There is a desire to continue despite setbacks and troubles. The drum work and bass lines are sublime, the guitar solo is bluesy and rocking at the same time. This song has everything I like about classic rock. And Joshua’s screams at the end have just the right amount of grit to them.

The second single off the record, “Age Of Machine” is another favorite. The guitars at the beginning and the warbling vocals are eerie and ethereal. The rhythm is slow, almost sludgy. It oozes along more like a BLACK SABBATH song with a dark tone and ominous feel. The backing vocals in the middle add an excellent depth to the song that feeds into another great guitar solo by Jacob. Daniel riding the cymbal towards the end brought an extra layer of sound at the end of the song that really closed it out well.

Now we hit “Light My Love,” another Classic Rock song that is one of the more uplifting songs on the record. With an almost southern rock flair to some of the sections, the song checks even more boxes on the Classic Rock influence list. The addition of the piano to this song adds even more breadth to the sound, spreading out the sounds and adding to the appeal.

Wrapping this record up is the epic, “The Weight Of Dreams”. At almost nine minutes, this is the longest song on the record and vying for favorite with “Broken Bells”. The guitar work is, again, almost sublime. Daniel’s drumming is full of little fills and has a fantastic tempo. Samuel’s bass at times lurks under the guitar, then comes out to stand beside and really bolster the song. This is the song that really showcases the band as a whole. It has the time and really does it well. I mean, that guitar solo… one of the best, ever.

These guys are masters at creating feeling in their songs. They can instill tension, angst, joy or trepidation simply with their choice of tunings and tempos. GRETA VAN FLEET build soundscapes and set moods, creating sonic spheres that envelope the listener. Joshua has an incredible range and the ability to use it to influence the overall feel of the song. His delivery is impeccable, never sounding forced or out of control.

The band as a whole is a tight unit that can use variable rhythms and patterns to adjust how the listener perceives what they are hearing. They know how to use tones and tunings to affect the emotional state of whoever is hearing their music. While I do agree that LED ZEPPELIN was also masters at this, to claim GRETA VAN FLEET is a ZEPPELIN sound alike diminishes what GRETA VAN FLEET has accomplished on this record.

This record stands on its’ own merit. Influenced by many of the greats, it is a modern, current homage to the past. This record feels classic, but new. It’s a record that stands on the shoulders of the giants, owing them gratitude for the assistance, but making its’ own mark on the industry. These guys are GRETA VAN FLEET and deserve to be compared to no one but themselves. They have firmly established their own legacy with this record.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  10
Production:  10

5 Star Rating

1. Heat Above
2. My Way, Soon
3. Broken Bells
4. Built by Nations
5. Age of Machine
6. Tears of Rain
7. Stardust Chords
8. Light My Love
9. Caravel
10. The Barbarians
11. Trip the Light Fantastic
12. The Weight of Dreams
Joshua Kiszka – Vocals
Samuel Kiszka – Bass/Keyboards
Daniel Wagner – Drums
Jacob Kiszka – Guitar
Record Label: Lava Records


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Edited 27 January 2023

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