Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet have released their highly anticipated second studio album ‘The Battle of Garden’s Gate’, following on from their 2018 debut release ‘Anthem of the Peaceful Army’. In typical Van Fleet fashion, Garden’s Gate presents fans with ambitious rock, an end of the world combustion of technical guitar solos and screeching vocals; triumphing the undeniable talent of the band. It’s a must listen for rock fans, classic and contemporary.
The Grammy award winners take their famed adoration of 70’s rock music, and in ‘The Battle of Gardens Gate’, impress their own stamp and identity in the genre. With progressive guitar solos and ringing vocals mirroring Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the album will no doubt bring more criticism from rock purists, hell-bent on the fact only Zeppelin can produce tracks with as much musical prowess as permitted by the record. Despite echoing Led Zeppelin in their debut studio release, the band’s latest work sees Greta Van Fleet carve out their own sound, a coming-of-age album, utilising their musical experience and tenacity to complete an album rich in old school rock fashion, with forward-thinking lyrics and concerns, resulting in an epic release.
The church-esque organ on the first track ‘Heat Above’ eases in the album, greeted by Wagner’s rolling drums and Jake Kiszka’s melodic, acoustic strumming. An appropriate track to establish the mood of the album, where sonically the band have experimented with different instruments and effects to create what is a very impressive listen. With ‘Built by Nations’ and ‘Tears of Rain’ being the only tracks that fall under four minutes in running time, the album is a ballsy approach to a rock manifesto.
Speaking in reference to the album, singer Josh states: “There was a lot of self-evolution happening during the writing of this album that was prompted by experiences I had, experiences we all had.” The songwriting shows self-awareness as well as personal identity; in ‘Built by Nations’ the lyrics poetically explore war, and its damning effect on humanity: ‘when a man must walk the devil’s road, churning up the Earth below, He is bound to brothers built by nations, with no pride to call his own.’ In ‘Light my Love’, the songwriting explores a more personal affair: ‘Your mind is a stream of colors, Extending beyond our sky, A land of infinite wonders, A billion lightyears from here now,’ the songwriting is testament to the width of exploration and wonder permitted by the album.
Providing the foundations of the record, Josh Kiszka’s vocals are a highpoint. Looking at Josh, it’s difficult to imagine such a voice can come out of him. What he lacks in stature, he more than makes up for with his voice, a battle cry, and impressive enough to fill stadiums. Backed up by his twin brother Jake’s high-level guitar playing, the two front the quartet. Their relationship is best witnessed on the final track, and arguably the highlight of the album ‘The Weight of Dreams.’ With a running time of nine minutes and a Jake Kiszka guitar solo at nearly three minutes long, the track is arguably the band’s most potent musically, and a statement of their self-belief and ever-growing confidence. It feels like the band’s attempt, and perhaps tribute, to the immortal ‘Stairway to Heaven’.
In what some will argue is bombastic and others biblical, Greta Van Fleet have delivered an audacious rock chapter, with their influences still felt, yet distant enough to reinforce their own identity. In ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’ the band continue to spearhead rock and roll revival, and have delivered a complex, sonically impressive record.
You can listen to the official audio of the full 12 track album below…
Words: Benedict Shirley