The Battle at Garden’s Gate

Apr 16, 2021
By Mark Moody

Web Exclusive


The press materials for Greta Van Fleet’s second album refer to the group using “rock ’n’ roll’s foundational elements to build an entirely new sonic blueprint.” Admittedly, these aren’t the band’s own words, but suffice it to say there is entirely nothing new about the proceedings on The Battle at Garden’s Gate. And, at over an hour’s running time, what’s contained here is much too long, particularly given the slog of the final third of the album. The final nine minutes of which is given over to a bloated opus, “The Weight of Dreams.” Dreams in this case are apparently very heavy and shot through with overwrought guitar solos.

The first few singles released for the album (“My Way, Soon” and “Age of Machine”), gave some indication that the group was taking a more prog rock approach and lead Van Fleeter, Josh Kiszka’s vocals seemed to migrate from a mimic of Robert Plant to closer to Rush’s Geddy Lee. But never fear, The Battle at Garden’s Gate, like all of the group’s work to date, is resplendent in all things Zeppelin. From references to by-gone days (“Caravel”) to gutbucket blues chords aplenty (“Built by Nations”), if the band has grown weary of the comparison, they do little to distance themselves from it. Particularly given tell-tale snippets of their forebears’ melodies in several songs. “Broken Bells” gives us both a repeated waft of “Stairway to Heaven” and a middle passage torn from Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.”

Wading through the full album in a single sitting is a chore, but there are a few brighter moments to land upon. “Light My Love” is under-laid with some sentimental piano chords and could make the cut for a classic rock lover’s wedding song. And though peppered with enough ululating bleats to distress a shepherd, there is no doubt “Heat Above” is the best thing going here. With well timed shifts and breaks and some guitar revs sure to get fans on their feet, the song is impeccably constructed and a fun listen, even if not entirely original. Unfortunately, it’s also the leadoff track so things generally go downhill from there.

Though it’s hard to muster much interest in sticking around, it remains to be seen if the band will explore a folkier side, à la Led Zeppelin III, next time out. In the meantime, The Battle at Garden’s Gate brings more of the same and a lot of it. To paraphrase the Pink Floyd classic referenced above, if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes, you’re probably not in Greta Van Fleet. (www.thebattleatgardensgate.com)

Author rating: 4/10

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