When I first heard “Highway Tune,” the first track off Greta Van Fleet’s first full-length album, there’s a reason I thought to myself “Huh, I have never heard this Zeppelin song before.”
In the past two years, Greta Van Fleet gained a lot of popularity by appealing to rockers both young and old. Greta Van Fleet’s second full-length album Anthem Of The Peaceful Army once again pays homage, both musically and lyrically, to their heroes. You can hear melodic bits of John Paul Jones and the energy of Pete Townshend supporting the aggressive wails of Josh Kiszka, especially in tracks such as “When The Curtain Falls” and “Age of Man.” But with all these influences coming through, even dominating the music, do they manage to create a sound of their own?
No. In fact, arguing that Greta Van Fleet sounds like Led Zeppelin is disregarding the artistry behind Led Zeppelin’s entire discography, from their blues beginnings to their multi-cultural influence late in their career. Greta Van Fleet wrote songs that sound like a small piece of Zeppelin, such as “Immigrant Song” or “You’re Time Is Gonna Come.”
But they aren’t merely imitators. The band members have simply done their homework to achieve a similar sound. They took a small musical snapshot that works for them and ran with it. Many artists do that. In this case, a lot of the album maintains a heavy and upbeat vibe, with the occasional acoustic power ballad. This was the recipe for a hair metal band, not a group trying to sound like a classic rock band with higher aspirations. Greta Van Fleet relies too much on small instrumental changes to evoke different moods, instead of displaying vulnerability in their playing or lyrics.
Greta Van Fleet celebrates their influences keep the spirit of the 70’s alive and relevant. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for now, they lack the artistry that makes a band legendary. The band’s repetitive songwriting on this album reminds me of many bands of the 70’s we’ve long forgotten, instead of what many consider to be the greatest rock band of all time.