Music Review: Greta Van Fleet’s “From the Fires”

I have no problems saying that Greta Van Fleet has the chance to be the second coming of Led Zeppelin.

The band is made up of three brothers – Josh, Jake, and Sam Kiszka – and their friend Danny Wagner. Josh’s killer Robert Plant-esque vocals and the Jimmy Page-esque guitar riffs make it hard not to compare them to Zeppelin. It’s apparent in every single rock-and-blues-filled song that Zeppelin has had a huge influence on these boys.

greta-van-fleet-image-josh-jake-sam-danny-sitting-on-the-ground
Greta Van Fleet. Picture via Universal Music Canada.

Recently, on Nov. 10, the band released their second EP called From the Fires.

When I heard that GVF was releasing a new EP with eight songs, I was stocked. I’ve been a fan for a couple months now, ever since my dad showed me the music video for their song “Highway Tune” when we were in the car one day. He was going to see them in Lancaster the next month and I was curious as to who they were. Obviously I was sucked in right away, but sad about the fact that they only had four songs on Spotify. I’ve been waiting patiently for new music for what feels like forever, but in reality, has only been a few months. 

I was a little disappointed to learn that the EP only included four new songs in addition to their four songs of their first EP Black Smoke Rising. I was ready for eight brand new songs. And even out of the four new songs, two of them – “Meet on the Ledge” and “A Change is Gonna Come” – are covers.

But my disappointed ended the minute I started listening to the EP.

Despite only having four new songs, From the Fires brings the same 70’s style rock that the band perfected in their first EP. It’s nostalgic and hard, and I love it. I might not have been alive in the 70’s, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know good classic rock when I hear it, and what Greta does is beyond good classic rock. 

I’ll be honest with you guys. Every single song of this EP is a highlight for me, from the new “Talk On The Street” to the old “Flower Power,” I’m mesmerized and impressed. So, for the sake of this blog post, I’m going to review what I think about each song. I’ll be going in order of how they appear on the EP. 

1) Safari Song

While this might be my least favorite song on the EP, it’s a perfect one for them to start out with. With howling vocals and beautiful guitar riffs, this song can do no wrong. Josh’s vocals soar throughout the song to give it that classic 70’s rock feel that they’re known for. It perfectly captures everything that Greta is, was, and will continue to be. Putting this as the first song on the EP was definitely a good decision.

2) Edge of Darkness

This might be my favorite of their newly recorded songs. It’s dark and gritty and edgy and everything I love. In some ways I feel like it shows a more sophisticated side to the band. Everything on this track – from the guitars, the singing, and the drums – gets me good. Josh’s wailing vocals are probably what makes it the best for me. Although I’m not a great singer, I appreciate a song with soaring vocals that I can belt (albeit badly) at the top of my lungs, and this song does it for me. There’s not much else I can say besides please, please, please, for the love of God, listen to this song. You won’t be disappointed in the slightest.

3) Flower Power

Flower Power is definitely my favorite song from Greta. It’s one of their slowest songs, which usually throws people off when all their other songs go hard, but there’s just something about this ballad-y song that pulls me in like no other. It’s the longest song on the EP at a little over 5 minutes, and at first I didn’t think I would like it, but it quickly grew on me and became my number one song. Despite being a slowed down song, Josh’s wonderful vocals are still there to remind you that this is still the hard rocking band from the other songs. This is for sure one of my most listened to songs of 2017, so make sure you check it out.

4) A Change Is Gonna Come

This is one of the new songs on the EP, but it’s also a cover. The original song was sung by Sam Cooke in 1964. I’ve never heard the original, but for what it’s worth, I dig Greta’s cover of it. It’s probably my second favorite song out of their newly recorded ones. It still has that Greta sound to it, but it also shows the more soul side of them. Like “Flower Power,” the band slows it down a little for this one. For people around in the 70’s who are looking for some nostalgic classic rock ballad-type songs, this cover, as well as “Flower Power,” are the songs for you.

5) Highway Tune

Like I mentioned before, this was the first song I ever heard from Greta Van Fleet, which means it has a special place in my heart. I don’t really know much technical stuff about music, but from what I’ve read and gathered from other reviews on both From the Fires and Black Smoke Rising, the instrumentals in this song are astounding. For readers just hearing about the band for the first time, I recommend checking this song out first. Aside from the fact that it’s their only music video, it’s also their most popular song. It got them to the top of the Billboard Mainstream Rock and Active Rock charts back in September. It’s the first song the boys ever wrote and recorded together, which makes it the perfect first song for anybody looking to get into the band.

You can check out the music video below. It’s pretty basic, but it does a good job of showing what the group is really about.

6) Meet on the Ledge

This is the other cover on the album. The original was recorded in 1968 by Fairport Convention. Like the other cover song, I’ve never heard the original. And like the other cover song, I dig what Greta’s done with this one. This might be my least favorite out of all the new songs, but it still kicks ass. Although not as ballad-y as a few of the other songs, this song is another slowed down one. It’s a great song (I mean, like I said, all the songs on this EP are great), but it’s still not one of my favorites. But who knows – if you give it a listen, it might just be yours.

7) Talk on the Street

Another good song from the band. It’s not my favorite one, this it’s for sure one of the highlight songs that other critics point out. It seems to stray a little from the regular Zeppelin sound that they’ve been going for, but they make it work. It’s there as a firm reminder that even though they do take inspiration from Zeppelin, they’re not just here as some rip-off band trying to be like another. Josh’s soaring vocals are still there and there’s plenty of guitar like always, but his voice seems relatively modest compared to the other songs. Not only that, but the guitar doesn’t seem to have as much grit to it as there other Zeppelin sounding songs do. Regardless, I’m incredibly into what they did with this song.

8) Black Smoke Rising

This is probably my second favorite of their older songs. It used to be my favorite before Flower Power took its place. Like I said earlier, I know jack about the technicalities behind music. All I know is that this song, like many of their others, makes me feel like a complete badass. When I’m walking around campus, especially in the colder weather with my combat boots on, it makes me feel like the coolest person alive (despite the fact that I’m probably the uncoolest person alive). It’s another song that perfectly captures everything that Greta is – rock, blues, and everything in between. Like opening the EP with “Safari Song,” one of their old tunes, it was definitely a good decision to close out this EP with this old tune.

Overall, some might say that Greta Van Fleet sounds too much like a carbon copy of Led Zeppelin. Even if that is the case, they’re doing something right – it’s nostalgic for older people, which gets them to listen. Even if they do sound incredibly similar, I’m a fan of Zeppelin, so why wouldn’t I be a fan of Greta?

If interested, you can listen to the entire EP on YouTube or on Spotify below:

Be on the lookout for my next post, which will either be a book review (I’m thinking Red Queen since I’m almost done with the third book in the series) or another music review (I’m thinking Going Grey by The Front Bottoms, but I’m putting it off until I see them in concert on Wednesday night.)

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