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Albums Of The Week: Greta Van Fleet | The Battle At Garden’s Gate

The retroholic prog-rockers return to piss off the purists and critics yet again.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After three years, a million concert tickets sold across five continents, four consecutive chart-topping singles, a Grammy Award, and performances on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, Greta Van Fleet are hurtling into the future with their second album The Battle at Garden’s Gate.

A bold evolution from the band’s 2018 full-length debut Anthem of the Peaceful Army, The Battle At Garden’s Gate came together primarily on the road or while in the studio after the runaway success of 2017’s Highway Tune led to the band packing up, leaving home, and eagerly soaking up new experiences on an extended road trip around the world.

Over the past three years, Greta Van Fleet — vocalist Josh Kiszka, guitarist Jake Kiszka, bassist Sam Kiszka and drummer Danny Wagner — played to hundreds of thousands of people across North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, South America, New Zealand, and the U.K. While driving to gigs, the first-time world travelers passed many unfamiliar sights, from the favelas in Sao Paulo to the Gold Coast of Australia and everywhere between, meeting and enjoying conversations with fans and other musicians that opened up new worlds to them.

Photo by Alysse Gafkjen.

To cap off the change-filled era, the quartet moved from Michigan to Nashville, immersing themselves in Music City’s rich history. The melding of all these experiences opened their eyes to amazing new worlds of culture, history, philosophy and spirituality — and ushered in an entirely new way of looking at life and the approach to their music.

Accordingly, Greta Van Fleet poured everything they experienced into these new songs — the music reflects their spiritual and intellectual growth, increased awareness of the inequalities plaguing the modern world, and deep empathy for what other people are going through.

“We realized that while growing up, we had been shielded by many things, and we were unaware of a lot of things,” says drummer Wagner. “And then we were thrown out into this huge world, and it was a bit of a culture shock at first. But as we started to travel a lot, meet new and different people and experience different cultures, our definition of ‘normal’ changed.”

“I suppose that everything has changed except what got us here in the first place,” adds bassist Sam Kiszka. “Everything — our perception of the world, perception of life itself, what it means to be an artist, what it means to be part of a beautiful, gorgeous society. We’ve gained a larger understanding of why we’re all here.”

Photo by Alysse Gafkjen.