4YE’s Better Late Than Never Spotlight: Greta Van Fleet’s Album From the Fires

Credit: Jake Kiszka

Welcome, welcome 4YEers to another installment of Better Late than Never. I plan on doing these things ever so often, starting, obviously, with Halt and Catch Fire and working my way through TV or albums or whatever catches my ears and eyes. I’m not sure how long it’ll go, but we’ll just see.

On that note, I have to sit here and review Greta Van Fleet’s new album From the Fires. I’ve never written an album review before. After running across their new album on Spotify, I have to spread the word. So, here goes.

Greta Van Fleet was formed by three brothers, Josh Kiszka, Jake Kiszka, Sam Kiszka, and Kyle Hauck in Frankenmuth, Michigan in 2012. Hauck left the band in 2013. He was replaced by Danny Wagner the same year. In 2014, a live EP was recorded in one take (yes, one take) and released in June of that same year. The band formed after hearing a passing mention of one of Frankenmuth’s residents named Gretna Van Fleet. Gretna allowed the boys to use a variation of her name for their band and thus Greta Van Fleet was born.

I’ve been listening to classic rock, symphonic metal, alternative rock and just the rock genre for my whole life. I grew up on Led Zeppelin, Journey, Boston, Kansas, Chicago, the Eagles, and all those seminal classic rock bands of the sixties, seventies, and eighties. When I got a little older, my mom started listening to new rock which led me to In this Moment, Avenged Sevenfold, Hellyeah, Halestorm, and others.

Surprisingly, this is exactly how I discovered Greta Van Fleet. I was flipping through radio stations and caught the end of their song “Safari Song”. I finally sat down to listen to their double EP. I was blown away.

At the base of Greta Van Fleet is a clear Led Zeppelin influence. Josh, their lead singer, sounds exactly like Robert Plant which is a hard feat to accomplish. Plant and Zeppelin were a tour de force. They were ahead of their time with a clear style all their own that is surprisingly replicated brilliantly in From the Fires. In fact, From the Fires feels like a well-crafted blast from the past.

Every song on the EP sounds like something that should be played on classic rock stations and it doesn’t just stem from Josh’s pipes. Brother Jake commands his guitar in a way that isn’t overly repetitious but is original and familiar all at the same time. For the most part, hard rock of this era is simply a little too hard with many of a band’s songs sounding the same. That isn’t the case with Greta Van Fleet. From the Fires languishes in its Zeppelin influence yet makes it accessible to this era’s rock and roll crowd.

According to an interview with Billboard, before From the Fires was released, Josh kept his Plant-esque growl a secret from his brothers. It wasn’t until one of their garage sessions before they hit it big that it became clear that the Kiszka brothers were sitting on a gold mine.

“We looked at each other and kind of stopped,” recalls Jake. “That was kind of a chilling moment–I knew he could sing, but not like that.” What’s even more impressive is Josh and Jake are only 21. Sam is 18.

Credit: Billboard

For me, From the Fires reminds me of a perfect summer album. This EP would sound great on an old boombox at the beach while you and some friends play volleyball or swim or sunbathe which makes it rather sad that it was released in November of last year.

Hopefully this year, it’ll find a resurgence in popularity in the summer because, seriously, this is the perfect example of a summer album. It’s laid back and incredibly fun. I think besides “Safari Song”, the song that really solidifies this opinion is “Flower Power”. Yes, really, they have a song called “Flower Power”. It’s so Zeppelin and so summer and so lovely. I can listen to it on repeat and not get tired of it.

As stated previously, From the Fires really doesn’t fit in with the hard rock of today’s standards but that’s perfectly okay.

As Sam states, “We’re living in the resurgence of rock” and he couldn’t be more correct.

After years of a strange crossover between pop and rock, rock is starting to come back to its roots with acts like Imagine Dragons, Portugal. The Man, and, now, Greta Van Fleet. Mainstream rock is also making a comeback with these acts and it’s nice. I, personally, feel that rock has lost its edge despite most rock being considered “hard rock” now. But, then again, I am living in the past. This resurgence of more “conventional” rock is wonderful for my ears.

Here’s to hoping Greta Van Fleet won’t cave under the pressures of fame. This dream team might never be replicated again. Of course, we said that about Zeppelin. Look at what these young men are accomplishing and have already accomplished.

From the Fires is an EP that makes me extremely excited about their full-length album. Not since Imagine Dragons has a band impressed me with their debut. Zeppelin fans need to check this album out. Actually, every fan of the rock genre needs to check this album out. Greta Van Fleet is on fire and their star is quickly on the rise.

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Shelby Arnold

Shelby is currently reviewer extraordinaire for 4YE. She is also currently the co-editor of Arkansas Tech University's paper The Arka Tech. She runs her own movie review blog called Shellin' Out Reviews where she crossposts many of her reviews. She previously was a staff writer at PopWrapped.

Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)

She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.

You can find Shelby on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
Shelby Arnold
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