Michigan-borne group Greta Van Fleet’s newest concoction, The Battle at Garden’s Gate, sustains their sound. While the group has been criticized for their resemblance to the legendary Led Zeppelin, they attempt to divert their musical style with niche modernisms to maintain originality. This album does well in this effort, though it does sound a bit like Zeppelin’s 1982 compilation, Coda.
“My Way, Soon” starts with eerie reverb and moves to some heavy riffs from guitar player Jake Kiszka. His brother Josh’s vocals always coexist with the beat, riding each note’s peak and dropping with each pause in sync. This track, along with “The Barbarians,” is meant for the open road, as each Valkyrie-like scream takes people further and further through the depths of Greta Van Fleet.
Their song “Age of Machine” seems to remain in the same key, as the guitar notes remain in the same few frets to cover the vocals. “Tears of Rain” shines a similar light on those frets but takes a more drastic approach to its rhythm change. These songs move a bit slower but remain suspenseful.
“Broken Bells” is a journey, ever-building as Josh’s vocals guide listeners to the crescendo of wawa pedal guitar and smashing drum cymbals. This climax forgoes the rest of the song, though, finishes with Robert Plant-style faded vocals. “Built By Nations” is a song larger than itself. The post-chorus guitar riff is notable but compares to others in its ’70s rock style. Each plateau in this song lasts only a few moments, then abruptly drops into a war-hungry chant to fade in and out of miniature solos from Jake’s guitar and drummer Danny Wagner, though the end is what seals it all.
The band stakes out new musical territory in “Light My Love,” a melodic and catchy track that might breach the decibel level of one’s speaker. It’s a romantic ode with rhythmic snare work and bombastic wails of Josh’s climax. It is stripped down and downright dirty.
This lengthy album has some mastery fretwork where Jake ventures higher and higher up his fretboard. Josh’s vocals climb with him, without any hesitance. “Stardust Chords” is an ideal example of this, ever-climbing and ever-changing with a more drawn-out rhythm and spiraling vocals to prove it. The dynamic nature of Josh’s vocals is unparalleled to other rock groups today, making Greta Van Fleet’s repurposed style last in modern music stardom.
“Caravel” seems to be in a perpetual loop. It cascades up and down, building upon the last element and then returning to the start. It lacks the wailing power to fill the gaps between the master drumming from Wagner. “Trip the Light Fantastic” is also a carousel of sounds, revolving around a simple and overshot melody. The album’s final chapter, “The Weight of Dreams,” is a lingering and rolling ballad with drastic peaks and a lengthy melody. Clocking in at almost nine minutes long, this song might catch a bit of the nostalgia sought after in the band’s musical style.
There’s a sense of misfortune that accompanies this album, almost as if the music is misplaced or perhaps even lost. Greta Van Fleet’s playing style is nothing new, in fact, it is about half a century old. The Battle at Garden’s Gate is the creation of something timeless. But one thing the band does successfully makes their music stand out, even in the 21st century.