Album cover for Greta Van Fleet The Battle at Garden's Gate

Album Review: Greta Van Fleet – The Battle at Garden’s Gate

I first heard about Greta Van Fleet a few years ago.

You have to hear these guys. They sound like Led Zeppelin, I was told.

Then I heard Greta Van Fleet. And I thought it was Led Zeppelin.  

More than an uncanny resemblance to the iconic rockers from the 70s, Greta Van Fleet some how, some way resurrected hard, gritty guitar rock that sounded decades old yet just as original as anything released today.

For the band’s second album The Battle at Garden’s Gate, released Friday (April 16), Greta Van Fleet no longer sounds like Led Zeppelin as singer Josh Kiszka’s falsetto sounds more like, well, I guess Josh Kiszka, than Robert Plant, but the feminine tones bring to mind Janis Joplin.

The Battle at Garden’s Gate keeps Greta Van Fleet fully in the 70s, continues the phenomena that is Josh Kiszka’s vocals but establishes this quartet from Michigan as their own band separate from any comparisons to their peers of half a century ago. Certainly they still hearken Led Zep but also a bit of (an edgier) Tom Petty.

I guess as you get older you wonder how a bunch of kids could excel musically in the manner of Greta Van Fleet. The guitar prowess of brother Jake Kiszka is off the charts and the whole band, brother Sam Kiszka on bass and Danny Wagner on drums, sounds well-beyond established. But you forget all those classic rockers didn’t come into their own as 40 year olds. They too started as young “kids” when their future was wide open.

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Greta Van Fleet The Battle at Garden’s Gate Album Review

Even the album title sounds 70s prog rock. Every song on The Battle at Garden’s Gate shows a complete mastery at making music. That’s not to say you will hard core rock out. The Battle at Garden’s Gate mostly offers sometimes slow, but methodical tracks with purpose requiring numerous listens.  The 12 song, more than an hour long, album rips fresh with guitar solos, sometimes poignant piano (or keyboards), a few welcome acoustic parts and intricate drum fills.

The Battle at Garden’s Gate opens with “Heat Above” an emotional piece that showcases Kiszka’s vocals but a really grand entrance to start the album. A song straight outta the 70s follows in “My Way, Soon,” the first single released and for good reason. “Broken Bells” slows the pace some, giving way to a more thematic nature that feels like the start of a concept album. Great guitar solo.

In fact, rock hero guitar solos abound on this one, nothing extraordinary complex, but hardly three-cord repeaters. Jake Kiszka adds some panache for the dynamic “Age of Machine,” some heavy licks on “Built By Nations” and a robust shredder for “The Weight of Dreams”

Elsewhere, “Stardust Chords” take a few spins to develop the catchy harmony, while the piano driven “Light My Love” bridges a softer side to the band’s harder rock roots. “Caravel” plays it a bit safe hanging on to the loud garage rock while relying on Josh Kiszka’s vocals to make the statement and really the first time Sam Kiska’s bass powers through. “The Barbarians” emits a strong 70s vibe with more of a bluesy undertone.

Despite the nice acoustic touch at the start, “Tears of Rain” comes in a bit over the top especially with Kiszka’s wails throughout, an arguably common occurrence on this record but more pronounced and grating on this one.

Careful now, with resting on your laurels but The Battle at Garden’s Gate bucks the sophomore slump though you might find it bit of a slog at first. Indeed, the quick pace approach to music seems lost on Greta Van Fleet but that seems more intentional as the band structures each song with purpose and conviction.

Kiszaks has harnessed the power of his lungs but now needs to rein it in a bit and then remember one thing: You will grow older and your vocals today will someday not be what they once were.

Grade: B+

Greta Van Fleet The Battle at Garden’s Gate Songs:

  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

6 thoughts on “Album Review: Greta Van Fleet – The Battle at Garden’s Gate

  1. I’ve really enjoyed this album. It is so well produced and each song feels like they spent a lot of time to get it right. Jake on guitar is absolutely stellar. I saw him live and he freaking killed it. Very underrated player that people should check out. I think these guys stepped it up with this album and they show some real promise. There were still some Zeppelin bleeding in on a few songs, but I think as you said, it is a little proggy. Still 70’s, but brought in to today’s world. B+ is pretty fair.

    1. thanks and I agree with all you said. when we used to go to concerts they sold out here in minutes. they are an arena act now.

  2. Nice, I have added it my Apple Music collection. Sometimes those vocals remind me of shrieking. lol Your right though the kid needs to chill out as his voice will be blown out before he reaches puberty! lol
    Good band with good chops. The Zep tag is old now…

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