Greta Van Fleet are back and doubling up. The young rockers from Michigan, whose sound and classic look are reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, have returned with “The Battle at Garden’s Gate”, an album that is not only rooted in classic rock of the 1970s, but also gloriously thrust into it.
This second full-length Grammy-winning effort marks a move towards a more expansive approach with progressive, mystical, and psychedelic elements. Many songs boom past the three-minute mark while the band jams and scribbles undisturbed. This time there is a little more rush with the Zeppelin.
The band has teamed up with super producer Greg Kurstin and under his guidance this collection has more elaborate arrangements, layers and chord progressions, lots of instrumental sections and strings. It goes to the edge of the bombast without falling over, with texts about nature, armies and strange medieval images.
The Kiszka brothers – singer Josh, guitarist Jake, bassist Sam – and drummer Danny Wagner sound strong this time, their musicality deeper, their self-confidence high. This is music that will inspire you to put on a pair of bell bottoms, grow your hair long, and go barefoot in the woods at dusk.
“Built By Nations” uses a zeppelin “Black Dog” -like reef as a spine, but then opens up to something completely different. “Broken Bells” lets the band breathe and jams for more than three glorious minutes on a “Stairway to Heaven” method that seems more like a respectful nod than a theft.
The ballad “Tears of Rain” gives Josh Kiszka a chance to turn his voice into a hurricane, and “Stardust Chords” is more than a bit of Jethro Tull-ish. The second half of the album drags on a bit, especially with the chaotic, indulgent “The Barbarians”. But it shows a new path for the band, which are less and less imitating their musical heroes.
The album ends with “The Weight of Dreams”, Greta Van Fleet in his best prog rock, an eight-minute roller coaster ride full of ambitions that is almost operational.
Perhaps this is a nod to the band causing criticism of Schallraub, but this sniping is more than a little snobby and misguided. “The Battle of the Garden Gate” must not change anyone’s mind and Greta Van Fleet will remain polarizing. But firing her never made much sense. Do you love the sound of classic 70s rock? Then why hate a band that’s lost in it and celebrates it? Check out the album and try not to rock.