THE BATTLE AT GARDEN'S GATE - GRETA VAN FLEET ALBUM REVIEW
Retro-rockers Greta Van Fleet are back with the sophomore album The Battle At Garden's Gate. We see everything we're used to with Greta Van Fleet in this album and, well, not much else. The new album isn't much further from their initial release Anthem of the Peaceful Army and although the famous phrase 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' could easily apply here, it would have been nice to see some real innovation.
The thing that really has changed since their debut is the use of instruments. You'll find a lengthy well-constructed guitar solo in most of the tracks on the album, and it's clear that there's been a need for the instrumentals to match the individuality of Josh Kiszka's vocals.
There's also a sense that the band knows more about, well, everything with this album. It's clearly a tale of their eyes opening, from being kids growing up in a small middle-American town, to an incredibly successful and well-traveled band.
In the first single released from the album earlier this year, which situates itself near the beginning of the tracklist, we see this newfound worldliness in lyrics like "I've packed my bags and I've got my freedom / I've sacked the rules so I don't have to heed them". As you can tell from even just this phrase, the lyrics are relatively uncomplicated throughout the album, which may have been done to allow more room for the newly found instrumental expression.
The album is remarkably cohesive and there is no denying that each track on the album is great, and the album as a whole, is very well put together so each song flows seamlessly into the next.
The closing track 'Weight of Dreams' comes in at an incredible 9 minutes long. Yes, you read that right, nine minutes. This song is where we really see this new type of instrumentalism in its full glory. It's psychedelic, bordering on transcendent, and offers itself as the standout song of the album. There's no point discussing the lyrics of this song because they are by no means what makes this song incredible - it's the dreamy guitar which runs all the way through and the anthemic drums, as well as the introduction of a variety of other stings, which really make this closing track a success.
What Greta Van Fleet has going for them is good. They're bringing a sound that is very distinctly 1970s Led Zepplin-esque to a modern audience, but the issue is they aren't really modernising anything. Nobody is naive enough to think that the music of 2021 is completely original and taking absolutely no inspiration from the music of decades gone, but with Greta Van Fleet it feels like they're a bit too stuck in that era.
There's no doubt The Battle At Garden's Gate is a decent album, and it's clear to see what the band is trying to do, but it's not quite special enough to give it a better ranking. Greta Van Fleet have a lot of potential, and now they've really made clear what their sound is, here's hoping that they'll begin to experiment more with future releases.