Progress can come from influence, but it cannot come from swindling or exploiting a demographic always clamouring for the same few chords. Amplified to near-perfection by Led Zeppelin, commercialised by the shaky efforts of KISS and finally bludgeoned to a pulp by Greta Van Fleet. Let the cycle continue, it’s a jungle out there, as Randy Newman once said. The dead-horse beaters proclaim their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army as a droning bit of snobbery that conducts itself about as well as one would expect of a band dressed up as the next group to pipe cash out of rock and funnel in generic witticisms that’ll make listeners clamour for better music that is, thankfully, readily available.
At best, Greta Van Fleet’s work on Anthem of the Peaceful Army can inflict a nostalgia for Led Zeppelin IV or Destroyer by KISS. Listeners can revel in the strong guitar work of Lover, Leaver and Watching Over all they want but they’ll never escape the obvious artistic theft. There is a fine line between influence and thievery. Greta Van Fleet has crossed it. Worse still, their lead singer, Joshua Kiszka, is set on proving he does not have the vocal or emotional range necessary for a leading rock singer. Tasked with presenting hard rock blues, he instead whines and croons, muted screams of a defiantly talentless star, surrounded by musicians who would make for a good tribute band on the Benidorm strip.
Just as the tracks peak into their acceptable, background-music filler of midsection, Greta Van Fleet falls apart. You’re the One may be listenable for about a minute, but as Kiszka applies muted screams to the horrifically generic message at the heart of it, the work as a collective is cemented as passive at best. There is no great or redeeming pointer to be made within their work, which cannot escape its synthesizer, country roads and truck-driving feeling. You’re the One sounds like a track ripped straight from the end of a late-1990s comedy feature, while opener Age of Man can be described as pathetic at best. At least Greta Van Fleet can lay claim to the barebones facts. They certainly own instruments, and they’ve most definitely made an album. That much is true.
Perhaps one of the worst attempts at riffing and ripping off rock music from the past. Music should be fresh, invigorating, and exciting. Even the worst albums, from Eminem’s Music to be Murdered By to Crazy Frog’s Crazy Hits, can proclaim themselves as unique. Facets of music, however bad, that nobody else has done in their style. Greta Van Fleet cannot say that. Their lyrics are generic, their instrumentals borrowed from sources of fifty years ago, and their abilities the equivalent to pub-rock amateurs wanting to pretend they’re Robert Plant for just a few short minutes. Unfortunately, Anthem of the Peaceful Army is anything but short. A tremendous slog to get through just ten tracks of pitiful, standard ballads of rock, love and roll. The musical equivalent of a Getty stock photo.