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Greta Van Fleet’s ‘From the Fires’ is a fantastic tribute to classic rock

| Monday, November 20, 2017

Joseph Han | The Observer

The era of rock ’n’ roll passed long ago. The legendary rock music produced by bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Who is played sparingly and enjoyed by an older generation. The rockstars of today are far different from the ones that once jammed out on guitars and drums.

Modern-day music icons lack the sharp edge and grungy grit that legends of earlier times possessed, and their music reflects this deficit. For a long time there has been no band able to capture the feeling of rock music of the past and present at a time when people wanted to listen. But now it seems the time is right — or that it soon will be — and Greta Van Fleet is the group that seems poised to restore rock ’n’ roll.

Greta Van Fleet has all the characteristics of your stereotypical high-school garage band. The band is a family affair; the Kiszka boys make up three fourths of the group, with twins Josh (vocals) and Jake (guitar) bringing their younger brother Sam (bass, keyboards) and family friend Danny Wagner (drums) along for the ride. The gang is also young: Josh and Jake are both 21 while Sam and Danny are only 18. And they all hail from the fairly average midwest town of Frankenmuth, Michigan.

While Greta Van Fleet has the features of a classic inexperienced teenage band, they’re far from that. Their music carries a sound that harkens back to the best rock ’n’ roll of any era — and their latest release, “From The Fires,” may hold the key to their future success.

“From the Fires” is a double EP that features eight tracks, four of which come from Greta Van Fleet’s debut EP “Black Smoke Rising.” The first seconds of the project’s first track set the tone for the entire project. Guitars are shred, drums are hammered and Josh Kiszka belts out his first of many extended and exaggerated howls, screaming  “Ahhhhhh Yeaahhh.” On the track, titled “Safari Song,” each of the song’s elements has its time at center stage. Josh’s vocals, which push on the edge of full shouting yet don’t come off as excessive, have their time to shine on the chorus. Jake’s talents on the electric guitar shine on a mid-song solo reinforced by Wagner’s work on the drums. The song sounds like a piece of classic rock from the early ‘70s and is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s honored style.

“Safari Song” is not the only track from “From the Fires” that sounds like it could have just as easily come from “Led Zeppelin II.” “Flower Power” is a stellar rock love song that carries a striking Zeppelin-esque feel. The track flows well, shifting back and forth from metaphor-heavy lyrics like “She’s a sparrow of the dawn / Our love is born” to the repetitive chorus “She’s alright (x3) / She’s out of sight (x2).” The track draws to a close with a minute-long keyboard solo from Sam Kiszka that calms the listener down from the loud guitar and deep drums.

While “From the Fires” is not meant to be a full album — more of teaser of the band’s style and sound — it has the sense of a continuous story. The songs conjure up similar feelings: a longing for adventure and the thrill of the road. The track “Highway Tune” seems like the perfect song for speeding down a one-lane highway in a vintage hot rod. “Meet on the Ledge” takes on a slower pace and the the lyrics are a call to adventure and companionship. “Meet on the Ledge” would seem to be the perfect concluding song, however that spot is taken by the jam “Black Smoke Rising.” The final track holds a catchy chorus alongside excellent rock instruments and features a splash of calm whispery echoes in the middle.

With the ability to bring an updated feel to classic rock, Greta Van Fleet’s music is a must-listen for any fans of the genre. If “From the Fires” garners the attention it deserves, look for Greta Van Fleet to be putting out a highly-anticipated debut album sometime in the future.

Artist: Greta Van Fleet

Album: “From the Fires”

Label: Lava Records

Favorite Track: “Flower Power,” “Meet on the Ledge”

If you like: Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath

Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5

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