Greta Van Fleet Struts Down “The Battle at Garden’s Gate”

Album art for The Battle at Gardens Gate

Album art for “The Battle at Garden’s Gate”

Nico Peragine, Staff Writer

Michigan hard rock band Greta Van Fleet’s sophomore studio record “The Battle at Garden’s Gate” tackles the sound of numerous 1960s and 1970s bands, such as Led Zeppelin, in its lengthy runtime. The band consists of Josh Kiszka (lead vocals), Sam Kiszka (bass), Jake Kiszka (guitar), and Danny Wagner (drums). Before Wagner joined the band in 2013, the group’s drummer was Kyle Hauck, but he was removed from the band for personal reasons. 

The band released their second full-length project, “The Battle at Garden’s Gate,” produced by Greg Kurstin under the record label Republic Records, on Apr. 16, 2021. The record can stop you in your tracks due to its reminiscent sound that it ever so gently replicates in unique ways. At first glance, the powerfully yodeled vocals of Josh Kiszka are comparable to those of Rush’s lead vocalist Geddy Lee. 

The composition of passages within the record is one of its biggest issues. Greta Van Fleet has not received the best treatment or critical reception over the last few years due to the derivation of their sound and their alleged lack of uniqueness. Many see the band as a ripoff,  while others see them as a new-age, hard rock revival. Whether you’re a fan of the sound or not, this newest record may be able to sway your opinion. Their biggest inspiration being Led Zeppelin, the group members have previously stated their love for that group and their attempts to recreate and appreciate the distinct sound Led Zeppelin carries. 

The standout tracks on the compositional front include “Heat Above” for its transcendent organ playing as well as “Built By Nations” for its roaring twangy flair. One of the highlights of the whole record, despite the mix of instrumentals in their loudest forms, is the clarity of the crashing of cymbals. Compared to the group’s past works, this record includes Greta Van Fleet’s most unique chord progressions, the band’s most enthused performances, and some of their most epic and grandiose lengthy productions. While Greta Van Fleet still struggles to find their own sound, this effort is better than any that came before it. 

Josh Kiszka, Greta Van Fleet’s vocalist, has a voice that some take issue with. For a hard rock group that mainly plays out 1960s and 1970s styles of music, the 1990s power vocals may come as a bit of a shock. While Josh Kiszka does utilize his wide range of vocals, the tone in which his voice stays can get repetitive after lengthy tracks in the hour-long album. The power vocals mixed with yodeling can be pleasant, however, and with the variety of uses through tracks should ward off these misgivings. 

The staggering power of the tracklist is questionable as there are some slower-paced tracks scattered throughout. Tracks such as “Broken Bells” and “Tears of Rain” contain material that would make sense to close the album with. From the pace to the topicality of the lyrics, these tracks could potentially provide for a fulfilling ending. Luckily, an even more fulfilling ending was chosen, as Greta Van Fleet placed “The Weight of Dreams” at the very end. This musical epic is almost 9 minutes long and contains some of the band’s most abstract and drawn-out work to date. Just when you think the song is about to end with the removal of instrumental layers, there is a short and sweet acoustic passage and a final slow strum. While this song is rightfully drawn out, there are a few other tracks that go on a bit longer than necessary.

Overall rating: 7/10