The month was July of 1973. The location was New York City at the renowned Madison Square Garden. The band was Led Zeppelin — one of the most influential rock quartets ever to exist. The moment in time was filming one of the only professionally-shot performances the band would ever do for the mesmerizing film, The Song Remains The Same. A film and performance that, no doubt, would go on to ignite the fires of creativity in so many young hearts and minds, leading them towards the never-ending expanses of artistic expression known collectively as ‘music’. Fast forward nearly five decades and you might be able to tell that those fires of influence have dimmed slightly, yet have most certainly not gone out. Making proof of this is the highly-anticipated sophomore album from GRAMMY Award-winning four-piece Greta Van Fleet, The Battle at Garden’s Gate.
Available everywhere now, ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’ offers a cinematic elegance the young band has yet to explore.
By blending their familiar 70s-type rock sound with big orchestral elements and new, intricate song formations, these talented musicians from Michigan have provided a path for themselves to emerge from the shadows of their influences and really take over their genre. This new album is just another step towards GVF becoming a force to be reckoned with all on their own. Producer Greg Kurstin (Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters, Adele) adds, “Hearing these songs evolve into expansive soundscapes took me on an amazing journey. I love that they explored these complex song structures and the band reached for chords, melodies and lyrics that stretch beyond the usual. Most of all, I admire that Greta Van Fleet has stayed true to themselves.”
Starting the album off is the previously released single “Heat Above” and, while still heavily favoring that Zeppelin sound, Greta Van Fleet wants you to know right from the start that the inspiration clearly don’t stop there. You get a pleasing mix of elements from Geddy Lee-styled vocals, hints of Bob Dylan-esque storytelling and, based on the performance footage from late-night shows, some Queen even shows its face (or white bedazzled jumpsuit), as well. These all culminate in a spot-on album opener. Getting plenty of radio air time is the second track on the album, “My Way, Soon”, serving as the perfect rock ’n roll hit to cruise around town with a group of friends, the windows down and the volume up. It’s fast-paced, loud, wild and fun and, to me, it belongs on the soundtrack for the movie Dazed & Confused.
After getting lost in pure rock over the next six songs, you come across the ninth track “Caravel”: a song that stands out, with its gripping intro of sporadic thunder, provided by drummer Danny Wagner, and dirty, rough riffs from guitarist Jake Kiszka. This leads into another blistering vocal performance by lead singer Josh Kiszka, showing off his naturally wide range, as well as the overall strength and power behind his voice. Closing out the album is “The Weight of Dreams”, GVF’s own personal “Stairway to Heaven”, if you will, being the longest track on the album coming in at almost nine minutes.
“The Weight of Dreams” is a massive sonic experience that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, leaving you at the end wondering in what decade did this entire rock ’n ’roll adventure just spit you out into.
When any new band is developing their sound, it can be difficult to fight the constant comparisons and straight-up vitriol that comes from ‘purists’. But, in my opinion, when it comes to any criticism in regards to sounding too much like this band or being too resemblant of that singer, Greta Van Fleet has adopted the mindset of Black Crowes‘ drummer Steve Gorman — “Fuck it, at least we have good taste.”
The Battle at Garden’s Gate is available everywhere now.
Purchase or stream ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’ album:
- Heat Above
- My Way, Soon
- Broken Bells
- Built by Nations
- Age of Machine
- Tears of Rain
- Stardust Chords
- Light My Love
- The Barbarians
- Trip the Light Fantastic
- The Weight of Dreams
Greta Van Fleet – “Heat Above” on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’:
Cover photo by Alysse Gafkjen
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.