Pleasure proves ‘Fleet’-ing in Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Greta Van Fleet’s newest release shows that sounding like Led Zeppelin doesn’t mean your music is any good

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Remember when songs were based on the talents of the people who played the instruments instead of people who plug in soulless sounds into a computer? Many people reminisce back to a mystical past when everyone listened to the same high-quality music and songs like “Hotel California,” “Highway to Hell” and “Sweet Child O Mine” were playing on the radio. Even people who weren’t alive during this time have a similar “rose-tinted” view on the music of the past.

Enter Greta Van Fleet, otherwise known as that band you swore was Led Zeppelin before someone told you it wasn’t. The group of Michigan rockers is more than happy repackaging this sound to give us a hint of nostalgia with their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army.

In terms of technical proficiency, this album isn’t bad. Each of the members of the band is talented in their given instrument, and the performances on the record are mixed relatively well. Josh Kiszka’s vocals have more of an impact as they float on top of the instruments in a smoother way than on their last EP. Similarly, his brother Jake Kiszka’s guitar work is just as thunderous as it was on the band’s previous songs.

That said, the songwriting is beyond basic. It seems as though every song is trying to be the next stadium rock anthem. You know, the kind that gets the entire crowd singing along with them. Each song screams, “Hey, look at me, I’m important!”

“When The Curtain Falls,” the third track on the album and perhaps the greatest hit in the eyes of the fanbase, features a generic blues-rock riff that borderlines parody. Although the Led Zeppelin imitation isn’t as egregious as the band’s previous hit, “Highway Tune,” the bland, copy/paste guitar solo and the call and response between the guitar and vocals in the chorus aren’t exactly original.

“Anthem,” the 10th track on the album and one of the worst, is beyond boring. The basic chord progression and uninteresting instrumentation make it a slog to get through. When the kumbaya-sounding crew vocals kick in toward the end of the track, I almost lose my mind. I’d rather go on a camping trip with a group of high school Mormons who turned the entire Book of Psalms into a Christian campfire chant than listen to this song.

After forcing myself through the full album (without giving in to my urge to listening to Led Zeppelin), it became clear that no song in the track listing offered anything that the classic rock songs of old didn’t already do better. There is nothing as ear-grabbing as the last 30 seconds of “Immigrant Song” and nothing as poetically grandiose as “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

In the eyes of fans, this blatant disregard for innovation is not a problem. The four-piece rock group seems perfectly OK with burning off whatever commercial energy this blues-rock sound has left instead of trying to actively push the genre forward.

By: Joseph Cotton | Staff Writer