“Rock and Roll is dead.” — A sentiment that has been shared amongst various music lovers across decades. A sentiment I may actually agree with, to an extent. In my honest opinion, we haven’t had a truly authentic rock band in years. In a genre over saturated by “jock rock” bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, etc. and “Warped Core” bands, true rock and roll may have taken a backseat. Rock music in which you can feel the truth in each and every note and lyric has, in a sense, died. From the ashes of rock’s fiery death rises a band harnessing the raw power of the unforgettable artists of 60’s and 70’s; a band that captures the glory days of rock and roll while also flipping the genre completely on its head. That band is Greta Van Fleet!
I first became aware of Greta Van Fleet this past Spring when they were opening for another band that’s rocking my socks, The Struts. The brothers Kiszka: Josh (vocals), Sam (bass), and Jake (lead guitar) joined forces with Danny Wagner (drummer) to resurrect heart felt rock. They’ve become my favorite band since that show. As soon as the show ended I rushed home to purchase their four song EP, “Black Smoke Rising”. Knowing that the band has such an extensive live catalogue I was a bit disappointed to see that they only had four songs officially released. But, perhaps that was a good thing. Those four songs left me wanting more. I listened to them on repeat, knew every word, and craved for new tracks. Earlier last month they announced that on November 10th they would be releasing their new double EP: “From the Fires”. How would these new songs stack up against the ones I love and adore?
Let’s get right to the elephant in the room. If you’ve heard Greta Van Fleet before then you’re aware that Josh’s vocal resemblance to Robert Plant is almost uncanny. I haven’t read an article yet that hasn’t considered them a modern day Led Zeppelin. That being said, I feel like that title puts them into a box they can’t escape from. While the similarities are there, Greta Van Fleet is a group of musicians doing something unique in a world full of artificial flavor. That continues on their latest release.
While I was a bit disappointed when I discovered half of the “mini-album” was just the “Black Smoke Rising” EP, as the opening guitar licks of “Safari Song” kicked in, all was forgotten. This high-intensity double EP is made up of the original four songs and four brand new ones, that being said, the re-order of the songs almost changes them completely. Call me a mark, or not, there is a change there.
The album first kicks off, as stated, with “Safari Song”. Jake kicks in with those opening licks and you know that you’re in for a magical blues rock ride. From there we move into “Edge of Darkness”. This is where I knew that the boys were not going to let me down. Josh’s screams of his lost love are heart wrenching, but extremely catchy. The next track, “Flower Power”, is a lighter track that is sure to make the ladies swoon. It tells a tale of an “outasight” girl that they just can’t stop thinking about. Perfect for any cool afternoon, to put on and drift away. Moving into another one of the new tracks, “A Change Is Gonna Come” is where the group truly shows they are like no other. This isn’t simply a rock song, or even blues, it’s a gospel ballad that will move even the toughest soul. Don’t worry boys, change is definitely headed your way. The following track is one I’m sure you’re all familiar with, “Highway Tune” the boys’ first single. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with this song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a kickass track, but it’s also been my alarm for the past 6 months. We’ve all ruined a song by making it our alarm. Don’t let that deter you though, definitely a solid track. The 7th track on the album is appropriately titled “Meet on the Ledge”. Originally performed by Fairport Convention, I see it as the band’s tribute to their friends, both past and present. While it is my least favorite song on the album, it’s still a solid track that will never get skipped. “Talk on the Street” is the following track and it’s definitely the most danceable tune on the album. While the track talks about a person being spoken about in quiet, I can’t help but get down. I’m not kidding, this song had me out of my seat and boogying all over the place. The album finishes the same way the EP did, with the track “Black Smoke Rising”. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is my favorite track by GVF, and I was happy to hear it once again. It’s a tale of standing as one, together to take down the forces against us as a people. It’s also damn catchy.
So, there you have it — Greta Van Fleet proves once again that they are a force to be reckoned with. There isn’t much else to say, you need this album in your life. With the release of the original EP and the subsequent Double EP, GVF has undoubtedly lit the fuse on what’s sure to be an explosive career in rock and roll.
For the latest news and dates for Greta Van Flee, visit the band’s official website at www.gretavanfleet.com. Follow their continuing adventures on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.