‘Theatrically and conceptually accomplished, but that’s where it stops’: A Review of Greta Van Fleet’s The Battle At Garden’s Gate

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Over-Indulgent

GVF boasted album two as THE cinematic experience, yet the whole album seems to lack in delivering what was promised.

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Greta Van Fleet‘s newest album The Battle At Garden’s Gate emerged onto the stage boasting huge theatrical capital, with the band making the most of their social media accounts to promote their much-anticipated second studio album.Upon a first listen, however, although the album may be theatricality and conceptually accomplished, that’s where the good things stop.

There is no doubting that front-man Josh Kiszka‘s voice is one of immense impact, but no matter how hard GVF try, the fancy octave changes and albeit impressive guitar solos leave little room for imagination. With every song offering stumbling snares and inflated rambling sounds there’s nothing majorly exciting about the album as a whole, with it rather feeling over inflated once the final few minutes roll around.

The band expressed, in the lead up to the records release, how album two was ‘nothing like they’ve ever done before’, yet the whole album seems determined to bring the old into the new. Which isn’t always a good thing.

‘Broken Bells’ and ‘Built By Nations’ undoubtedly have ensured that the Zeppelin comparisons, however tiresome the band find them, will carry on. The delicate folk sound of ‘Broken Bells’ undoubtedly mirrors the epic sounds of Zeppelin’s ‘Ramble On’ and ‘Going to California’, despite the band saying they were going to move on from this clear Zepp influence. I suppose you could call GVF a Neo-Zeppelin band?

The love for for the classic rock era is obvious, The Battle At Garden’s Gate unfortunately, lacks originality as it seems covered in musical fingerprints of previous rock bands. The band have incorporated Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell like vocals and Jake Kiszka does his best Hendrix impression in the opening to ‘The Barbarians’, a track made up of the same chorus repeated three times; it’s easy to sing along to but leaves excitement and rock n roll levels low. It doesn’t explicitly steal lyrics or sounds, but of course it’s all been done before, making it a tiresome and boring listen.

Lyrically, GVF have taken on a more emblematic approach, which carries a lot of the theatricality the band alluded to. Yet some lyrics lack depth and are a mixture of dull and idle images. ‘My Way Soon’ is GVF’s attempt at a coming of age rock song, yet it fails to tick any of the boxes. Kiszka sings ‘I’ve seen many people/There are so many people/Some are much younger people /And some are so old’. Just reminding you that there are other living beings in the world, and some even age too! Lyrically it’s lazy, but the striking rage fuelled guitar disguises the slap-dash lyrical work, and for being the lead single of the record it doesn’t pull it’s weight.

Despite the album not delivering and hardly living up to expectations, many cryptic and mysterious social media posts may have ramped up the tensions and left fans – including myself – feeling as if the album was going to be much bigger. An album full of past influences and musically arranged psychedelic trips which are nothing more than jamming sessions, isn’t really what was promised. Maybe GVF need a few more years to come into their own and truly abandon their past influences and rip up the heartfelt love letter to the classic rock era.

Closing track ‘The Weight of Dreams’ hits an exhausting nine minutes, that hardly covers any enthralling ground. For a song of nine minutes repeating the same chorus twice sandwiched between two short sharp verses, is not enough. The record quickly runs dry making the skip button looking incredibly appealing.

But it’s difficult to ignore the talent of the quartet. Twins Jake and Josh Kiszka are hitting their mid twenties, and Sam Kiszka the youngest of the band has only just come out of his teen years. To accomplish all that GVF have at such a young age, and in a short space of time, is nevertheless admirable.

The Battle At Garden’s Gate is available to listen to now via Republic Records. Check out ‘Heat Above’ down below.

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