Greta Van Fleet toes the line between homage and ripoff but 'Anthem of the Peaceful Army' is ultimately enjoyable (National Rock Review)

Hot take: Greta Van Fleet’s debut album is a rock n’ roll throwback

Album Reviews/Arts & Entertainment by

The world of music journalism is full of takes: Good takes, bad takes, medium takes, and even hot takes. Here, in the Arts & Entertainment section of the The McGill Tribune, we try to supply the hottest takes around. Recently, Pitchfork lambasted Greta Van Fleet’s newest album. In the article, Jeremy D. Larson gave Anthem of the Peaceful Army a dismal 1.6 out of 10. While one could easily contest Pitchfork’s critical ability, they are undoubtedly one of the biggest voices in music journalism. We at the Tribune, however, believe that the biggest opinion does not necessarily correlate to the best. Here’s our hot take on Greta Van Fleet.

Album Review: Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Star rating: ★★★★

“Rock and roll is dead.” It’s a complaint heard often these days among classic rock enthusiasts. The recent emergence of Michigan-born blues and hard rock band Greta Van Fleet provides a glimmer of hope and a compelling piece of evidence to the contrary. After gaining traction last year with their EP “From the Fires,” the band released their first full-length album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, on Oct. 19.

Greta Van Fleet’s bluesy melodies and extended instrumental interludes take listeners back to the ‘70s and into the era that gave rise to emblematic bands like Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Led Zeppelin. Critics often draw comparisons to the latter, and it’s obvious why: Lead singer Josh Kiszka’s raspy howl, featured prominently on songs like “When The Curtain Falls,” is strikingly similar to Robert Plant’s style, and the swirling guitar riffs of “Age of Man” and “Brave New World” are undoubtedly reminiscent of the legendary group. It’s like stepping into a time machine.

There’s a fine line between a style inspired by one’s predecessors and one that feels derivative. Critics of the band often dismiss them as a carbon copy of classic musical acts, lacking in creativity. There is validity to that argument: Most of the songs on Anthem of the Peaceful Army could inconspicuously feature on a Led Zeppelin playlist, and the average listener would never notice. But, the band’s members are barely in their twenties, and they are skilled in the art of rock ‘n roll. With time and experience, they’ll find a sound of their own.

Anthem of the Peaceful Army might be imitative, but it’s energetic, nostalgic, and just plain fun. In a world of autotune and drum machines, I’ll take a Led Zeppelin rip-off any day.