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Greta Van Fleet's Anthem Of The Peaceful Army Album Review

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

Okay. The elephant in the room is that it’s been over a year since I did my review of From The Fires. No, I can not blame COVID for everything, especially since we’ve only been at it for five months with it. I will be completely honest and say this is one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard in my life. (I know, who am I, but I have listened to a ton of albums in my twenty-four years of existence) With that being said, I’m fully aware that no words could ever measure up to the thought, feeling, dedication and hard work put into this album. This album came out in October 2018, two months after I had seen Greta Van Fleet for the first time. I’ve been extremely anxious to review this album… Because… This is my band. This is a lot of people’s band. This is the album. This is… Anthem Of The Peaceful Army.

Remember in my last Greta Van Fleet review where I said to open up your mind? Open it up even further. The first track on this album might be the entire reason why I’m left feeling so anxious about doing this review. “Age Of Man”. If I ever have been able to feel a song through my veins, can visualize a journey, cry on a plane listening to this song two days after seeing this band in Atlanta (yes of course that happened), this is it. This is the one. This song makes me feel alive. This song makes me feel I am supposed to be here. This song brings me to not only tears, but also peace. Starting out with a beautiful, symphonic composure of music from the keys (by Sammy Kiszka, who was only nineteen when this album came out) is enough to make your eyes water. Especially in a live setting. The vocals come in next. “In age of darkness, light appears.” Those are the opening lyrics. Enough to hook you right there. This entire album is such a journey. A wonderful, beautiful, spiritual journey. And this track is just the beginning of this journey. With Jake on guitar, Danny on drums and of course Josh screaming, this is a wonderful welcome to this journey. My favorite thing about this song? They released it a day before the album came out. No, it was not released on Apple Music, Spotify, or even YouTube. The band provided a link to the track. But the song would not play… Unless you were at a park. If you location services were on, and you were at any type of park, the song would play. In other words, you HAD to be in nature in order to listen to this song. That was the beginning of The March Of The Peaceful Army.

Lyrics that hook me:

“March to the anthem of the heart, to a brand new day, a brand new start.”

“A beauty lives in every soul. The more you love, the more you know.”

“And as we came into the clear, to find ourselves where we are here.”

So, what is the meaning behind “Anthem Of The Peaceful Army”? Well, the fans are called the peaceful army. So, I suppose that this album is our entire anthem. Makes sense, right? Anyway, the second track on this album is not as overwhelming as the first one for me thankfully. It has gone through a few different titles though. “When The Cold Wind Blows”, “The Cold Wind Blows”, pretty sure it was titled “Only Time Will Tell” in the very beginning, “The Cold Wind”. I was confused on the title for a while before the album came out. Often, this track is how Greta Van Fleet opens shows. The feel good rockin’ beat gets people going, gets people excited, gets people on their feet (unless you already are, we love general admission the most). The first time that I heard the album version of this track, I was somewhat blown away by the opening lyrics. “Oh sweet mama, lay me down in my grave.” I had never heard anything like that before, especially something like that from Josh Kiszka.

Lyrics that hook me:

“Oh sweet mama, lay me down in my grave”

“Only time will tell”

Moving on to the next track, I will point out that some of these songs I don’t have as strong of an opinion of. So that means that some tracks, I’ll just ramble on for a while. And some, I might not say as much. “When The Curtain Falls”. Do you know that one? I can honestly say I remember when it was released. I believe it was middle of end of July in 2018. The earliest, yet vague, memory I have of this song is in the car. My mother and I were picking up my sister from work and I remember listening to it on the way home. Whether it was on the radio, or we were playing it on one of our phones, I just really remember listening to it in the car. The music video for this song? Absolutely amazing. The place it was filmed. The fashion sense of the band. The cinematography. The shots. The trippiness. The night sky. The phases of the moon. That is easily my favorite music video ever, I do believe. When I saw GVF for the first time at The Pageant in St. Louis, it was the last song they did before the encore. It was loud. People screamed the lyrics. It had only been out for a short time back then. But it was fantastic. A few weeks after that show, the band performed on Jimmy Fallon, which I believe was one of their first, if not first, TV performances. My sister recalls “staying up” for that. It was loud. Josh admitted he took a few shots of tequila before performing due to nerves. This is the song when playing live, Josh shouts, “Do it, Jakey!” for Jake playing one of his many thrashing solos. Fun fact about this song: It’s apparently based off of one of Josh’s films, he’s very into filmmaking.

Lyrics that hook me:

“You’re in and out of fashion, in Hollywood of hell”

“When the curtain falls, walk the hollow halls babe”

“Well I love you in that movie show, can I have your autograph”

“Obetrol and cocktails, you’re counting all your rings”

“You’re a one woman show, but I’m not gonna lie, you could use a little work, well at your age”

Personal favorite:

“Goodbye baby, goodbye”

“Watching Over”. Hey, we’re on track number four! This is an interesting one for me. The band had been doing this song for probably a year, two, maybe longer before actually releasing it. They did it at my first show and I can recall it being loud, mysterious, and the lights were red. As many have said, Jake has a “sexy solo” in this song. Does he ever not? This song definitely speaks of nature and environmental changes and awareness. I must admit, it took me a few times to really get into this song. I suppose I had to use extra brain power and try to understand this track, compared to others. To really understand the lyrics, what’s being talked about, what’s going on, is something you might have to train your brain to do. Speaking out about environmental issues such as air pollution, humans not caring enough for the future generations, is a huge statement.

Lyrics that hook me:

“I wonder when we’ll realize, this is what we got left and it’s our demise”

“With the water rising and the air so thin, still the children smiling, can we see no sin”

“See no sin, say no sin”

Lover, Leaver. There are two different versions of this song. A short one and a long one. We’ll talk about the long one later.

“You’re The One”. Not only my favorite track on this album, but also my overall favorite Greta Van Fleet song. And it’s extremely hard to choose one GVF song to be your favorite. But yes, as cliché as it is, this is mine. Before seeing the band the first time, (first time, second time, I’ll eventually speak of the second time) I’d heard the song a couple of times, but it wasn’t until that show until I truly comprehended the entire song. A ballad. A rock band doing a ballad not sexualizing women? Who are these people? The acoustic guitars in this song are truly what makes it soft and real for me. Yes, my favorite guitar player can play behind his head on electric, and then turn around and play a slow ballad to capture not only my heart, but thousands of hearts just to make everything perfect enough. What I find hilarious, but also amazingly sweet about this song, is that radio stations in my town were playing it for a while. Like, alternative stations. Stations that play System Of A Down, AC/DC, Korn, etc. They were playing THIS soft ballad on their somewhat hard rock radio stations. That was the best thing to me. I believe this track was released either a few days, or a week before the album came out, which of course made it even more special. While my sister prefers this song live, I might like the studio version better. Only because you can hear all of the vocals in it. Jake sings. Live and in the studio. It’s the kind of song that really captures your heart. It’s for couples. It’s simple and easy to learn on guitar. I’ve got the main riff down on electric, and that’s saying something. To be able to look up at men, from the front row, singing about women in such a way that women are not often talked about, especially as being a woman, is something I will never be truly able to describe. I was so used to hearing acoustic versions, live on stage versions that were always amazing, but there was something more I felt when I was finally able to hear the studio version. It was almost like an entire choir was with them. It was a symphonic experience for myself. I’ll let the lyrics do the explaining furthermore.

Lyrics that hook me:

“Girl I’d be flying if you stood yourself and said”

“You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need, You’re the one I had, so come on back to me”

“Babe you’re so young and pretty, but you’re evil you oughta know”

Super extra special personal favorite lyric:

“Won’t you hold my hand and stay a while”

Moving on from a strong and powerful ballad, up next is one I personally consider a “superior song”, meaning not enough attention is given to this track. “The New Day”. When I first heard this, I wasn’t into it for some reason, which is insane to think about since I absolutely love it now. Whenever I hear those beginning acoustic strums in the beginning of the song, I can just visualize the band being in a convertible, on a sunny summer day, playing guitars in while the sun is shining, smiling and having an amazing time. I’m not exactly sure what, or who this song is about, but I can relate to it somewhat. “You’re a child in the garden”, “You’ll be a woman soon” are just some of the lyrics. Lack of professionalism here, but I believe this song is very cute, not in a bad way at all. That’s the way I describe it. When I listen to this song, I can see sunshine, positive vibes, a light at the end of the tunnel. For me, this song is about women growing, evolving, becoming their true selves. On the other hand, there are lyrics such as “Love doesn’t fade away”, which represents love in this song.

Lyrics that hook me:

“Let the new day shine its light on me”

“You’re a child in the garden, you’re growing up I’ll watch you bloom”

“And your dreams are not forgotten, you’ll be a woman soon”

“Love isn’t greed it’s a need that goes unspoken”

“Love doesn’t leave when you fade away”

Carrying on to Mountain Of The Sun. This has been played for years at Greta Van Fleet shows. Jake busts out his Coodercaster guitar and slides all up and down it. I can always picture mountains in this song. Wonder why! All in all, this is such a great jam and I’m really glad it was released on this album. (Fun fact: The opening lyrics to this song in 2017-2018 live were actually “Lady lady sweet sunshine, gonna call you up and make you mine”)

Lyrics that hook me:

“Sun shines brighter from above and you’re the one that I love”

“I’ll make you mine, you’re my sunshine”

Extra special favorite lyrics:

“Take me with you when you go, to be with you is all I know”

“The second sun’s our loves desire”

“Brave New World” might be another one of those underrated songs. They have played it live a few times, actually they played it at my second show. I hear the lyrics, but I don’t fully understand them. I believe the chorus and the guitar pull me in most for this song. Especially the “Ma ma ma ma” part.

Lyrics that hook me:

“Kill fear the power of lies, for we will not be hypnotized”

Nearing the end of the extraordinary album. “Anthem”. This was released before the album came out. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting from this song, but it wasn’t what it is. In a good way. I’ve heard many rumors that this is what the next Greta Van Fleet album is going to sound like. This song is not only what I need to hear, it’s what every single human being on earth needs to hear. It’s positive. It’s peaceful. It’s real. They’ve played the song twice live I believe, once in Brazil and once in Australia. I suppose everyone sings on the track? (Maybe not Sammy) But you can definitely hear Jake and Danny singing, which is always my favorite thing. At the very end, everyone who is singing holds the last note out, but Danny holds it out just a little longer.

Lyrics that hook me:

“Where is the music, a tune to free the soul”

“A simple lyric to unite us all you know”

“You’ll have to stay and open up your own mind”

“And every glow in the twilight knows that the world is only what the world is made of”

“Just you and me can agree to disagree that the world is only what the world is made of”

“The colored world has turned into a gray you say”

Here it is. The final song on this album. “Lover Leaver Taker Believer”. I thought I could get away with skipping it, but unfortunately, I would never do that. This song is… Sexy? I’m not really sure how to describe it exactly. I just know there’s a lot going on in it. And if you ever see it live, good luck. Lots of good guitar riffs in this one. Lots of sliding up the guitar. There’s a certain part in this song where Jake does a thing. If you know, you know.

Lyrics that hook me:

“Oh my holy lord sets my soul on fire, flames of love and sweet perfume she’s my heart’s desire”

“She’s an angel straight from hell”

Like I said, some songs I had tons of things to say. Some, not so much. This was a very overwhelming thing for me to do, but I finally did it. In fact, back in September 2019, Greta Van Fleet released a song called “Always There” that was in a movie titled, “A Million Pieces”. Surprise! It’s the bonus round!

Bonus track: (Not on the album, just a single)

“Always There”. The night that this song was released, yes, I stayed up and listened to it, it was bit overwhelming, as one of my other favorite bands released a debut EP that night. It’s such a funny story though. I was in my room trying to listen to other band’s EP, but it wouldn’t show up on Spotify for me for some reason. So, I decided to listen to Always There first. Funny enough, my sister was having the complete opposite issue. So while I listened to GVF’s single, she listened to the other bands EP. I believe we were on the same level of excitement listening to all of the above. This was a different track somewhat for GVF, but still similar sounding. Singing about women. As Lern of a classic rock radio station (KSHE 95) here in St. Louis actually told Jake and Sammy while interviewing them, “my ears kind of perk up because you guys sing about women.”

Lyrics that hook me:

“She is the drummer of your beating heart”

“Don’t you try to push or shove her, find another, she’ll walk away”

“She’s a woman in a dream, the one that makes you fall in love”

Overall rating? 1,000/10. This concludes my review. Fingers crossed this band releases one new song, an album title, a music video, more signs of life, before 2020 is over. Anthem of The Peaceful Army is available on all streaming platforms.

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