Album Review: Greta Van Fleet – The Battle At Garden’s Gate (2021)

Critical adversity is no stranger to Frankenmuth, Michigan band, Greta Van Fleet. Ever since the release of their 2017 double-EP, From The Fires, the group has faced major backlash from critics and music fans alike, calling out their Zeppelin-esque sound and style. Pitchfork even gave a coffee-spitting 1.6/10 rating on their review of GVF’s debut album, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (2018). That being said, these rockers still find themselves with a large following of fans and songs that continuously top the rock charts.

Their new release, The Battle At Garden’s Gate, is no exception. The lead single, “My Way, Soon,” fought to the top of the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart in January, making it the fifth GVF song to do so. “My Way, Soon” is a fun pop-rock tune with some cool shots, but ultimately doesn’t do justice to the overall flow and feel of the album. Another highlight as far as the more accessible tunes go is the riff-driven “Built By Nations.”

The album has been described by the members as “cinematic,” and the first half of the album handles this title extraordinarily well. The opener, “Heat Above,” is a organ-driven journey of psychedelia and mysticism, and is destined to become a fan-favorite for many years to come.

“Age Of Machine” is a great example of the darker side of the cinematic feel, with a chanted chorus that will truly be a spectacle to see shouted by a mob of cult-like fans during live performances. “Broken Bells” is another highlight with a great build and guitar solo.

The unfortunate thing about The Battle At Garden’s Gate is that the majority of highlights are crammed near the beginning of the album, and although the larger-than-life feel of them is truly something special, the back-half of the track-list starts to seem just slightly repetitive. There are definitely some really memorable moments as you near the end, such as the chorus of “The Barbarians” and the huge feel of the nearly-nine-minute “The Weight Of Dreams,” but those don’t stop the album from feeling a bit bloated.

Still though, there are no poor songs on The Battle At Garden’s Gate. It is a great release for a sophomore album and a much better outing than their debut. Ultimately, it has plenty of moments that will stand up to the test of time, regardless of what Pitchfork writers may think.

Overall rating: 8/10

Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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