Bands have made a living sounding like Led Zeppelin for practically 50 years. The quartet’s body of work has proven to be an irresistible inspiration, with the banshee wail vocals, towering blues-rock guitar riffs, rock god posturing and lyrics pulled from misty mountains of days gone by powering the early work of Rush and opening the door for Whitesnake, Billy Squier, and later, more modern followers such as Wolfmother.
The current acolytes swinging their own Hammer of the Gods are the members of Greta Van Fleet, the young American 4-piece who have built a reputation as a live act with, until now, only a pair of EPs. Last week, the band released its long-awaited first full-length album, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” and it’s about what you’d expect: trippy, hippy sentiments about wandering “lands of ice and snow” (heard that one before?), Satan playing his flute and a child in the garden, howled over classic rock riffage.
Opener “Age Of Man” sounds more like early Rush — bluesy, fantasy prog — than Zep, with some tasty guitar by Jacob Kiszka, backing up Joshua Kiszka’s Geddy Lee-like pipes. “We will know the end is near,” Joshua sings, and the epic ending of the track supports that notion. “The Cold Wind” is Zeppier, and the catchy “When The Curtain Falls” warns of the pitfalls of fame, while the moody, midtempo “Watching Over” is simpatico with veteran blues rockers Gov’t Mule.
“Lover Leaver” features some nice jamming with a greasy slide solo, while bassist Samuel Kiszka and drummer Danny Wagner prove to be a formidable and locked-in rhythm section. Acoustic guitar makes its first prominent appearance on “The New Day,” with Joshua singing in a warmer, less screechy style. Big vocal harmonies on the chorus make the track one of the album’s highlights. “Anthem” (coincidentally — or not — also the name of a song from Rush’s second album) is an easy and breezy strummer of a song and closes the album with a sense of hope and comfort.
Greta Van Fleet is not contributing anything new here, but there’s something to be said for their passion and talent. And if they help push a rock revival in a mainstream music world currently dominated by guitar-less pop acts, more power to them. But the nostalgia act can only take them so far. Let’s hope we get to hear who Greta Van Fleet really is the next time they release an album.