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I previously wrote an article discussing the topic of comparisons between retro-rock icon Greta Van Fleet with the classic gods of rock, Led Zeppelin. I defended Greta Van Fleet, saying that they were gonna find their own individual sound and vibe come their next album and that ultimately they would shape their band into something unique. They released their new record Anthem of the Peaceful Army in October of last year and it’s been laying on me like a corpse ever since. It’s not good. Seriously, it somehow sounds more like Led Zeppelin than their efforts up until that point. The only difference now is that there is no excuse. My only question to myself now is, why did this happen?
Greta Van Fleet supposedly had a completely different plan for this album compared to what ended up being released. Sam Kiska, their bassist, told Ultimate Classic Rock, “We had all these songs we wrote three to five years ago that we were just going to put on the album.” Which is cool right, these songs have been worked on for literal years and had plenty of headroom to grow and evolve into something more refined. This was the case until the band decided to be mostly thrown out the window as the band recorded most of the material in the two-week span of recording in the studio, Sam saying, “I’d say about three-quarters of the songs are songs we wrote in the studio.” Now while writing albums in the studio isn’t always a big issue, you have to imagine how much had to have been rushed for a big selling modern rock band to write and record a full LP in a two-week span.
Now when it comes to the effect on the actual album, it’s extremely obvious how these really all could’ve just been recorded in one session they’re so similar. Motifs and riffs are reused and repurposed so much it’s quite literally like a factory just pushing out the passable classic rock riffs. Listen to “The Cold Wind,” “When the Curtain Falls,” and “Lover, Leaver” in a row and tell me it doesn’t sound like just an 11-minute blues-rock jam that Zeppelin would’ve done in their live shows. Then, when it comes to “You’re the One” and “The New Day,” someone was probably just like “Okay, now let's get the acoustic guitars and record a couple things.” That’s probably what pisses me off most about the record. It sounds more like a brainstorming session more than an actual professionally made album, something I had to keep reminding myself wasn’t just some middle-life crisis band’s set at the local block party.
The most important thing to take from this record and this band as a whole is that when it comes to music, gimmicks die fast and they die hard. Don’t get me wrong these guys are talented, but when it comes to rock music we don’t need any more flashy vocals or guitar licks. We need innovation and something that’s unique, something pushing the bar forward. When you just rely on your fans and your retro-rock nostalgia enough to just push out a record in two weeks, it is doing nothing to the genre except soiling the reputation. I want to say I’m gonna look for their next release to see if they experiment or change anything, but I have a bad feeling they won't. Unless they actually take time to explore their abilities and you know, not record everything in two weeks, then maybe something substantial will come out of these guys, but I’m not relying on it.