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REWIND: A Reflection On Greta Van Fleet's 'ANTHEM OF THE PEACEFUL ARMY'

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

October 19, 2018: What would be known to be one of the most anticipated albums of my life, an album so timeless that’s full of transonic journeys and enhances a story from beginning to end. An album for the ages that spreads peace, love, unity, and equality. A transparent piece of music that is life-changing. This… Is Anthem Of The Peaceful Army.

The ten-track album collectively written by all four members - Jake Kiszka (guitarist), Josh Kiszka (vocals), Sam Kiszka (bass + keys), and Danny Wagner (drummer) - explore a variety of affairs including fresh starts, love, integrity, adventure, diversity, and peace. Greta Van Fleet presents a three-way marriage between rock, soul, and blues amongst powerhouse vocals to grasp you into a romanticized piece of music. Anthem Of The Peaceful Army was recorded via Lava/Republic Records at Rustbelt Studios in Royal Oak, Michigan and Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

On July 17, 2018, we were introduced to a taste of AOTPA “When The Curtain Falls”, which rose to the top 10 on rock charts and accumulated 13 million streams in its first month. To match the charismatic energy of the track, the mystical music video welcomes you on a psychedelic trip with the band, vertically shot. Following singles included “Watching Over”, “Lover Leaver” and GVF’s fourth number-one hit, “You’re The One.”

Kicking off Anthem Of The Peaceful Army remains a track that some would call a life anthem. The inspiring opening track embraces you with compelling vocals and a mix of swaying sounds from a mellotron. Grasping you into an earth-filled universe amongst visions of rainbows, blue and green tones, where skies are purple and breathtaking trees fill the vicinity. Such lyrics - “A brand new day, brand new start” - are enough to motivate you. Soothing lyrics such as - “The more you love, the more you know” - grasp you under its wing. An anthem allowing you to express yourself. An anthem that’s a call to arms. Leading into a more blues-rock track “The Cold Wind”, Jake provides memorable guitar riffs to bring you into the 70s rock n roll revival you’ve been waiting for. “When The Curtain Falls” produces thrashing riffs and powerhouse vocals, along with a funky bassline that you’ll sing along with each time you hear it. Josh has revealed filmmaking was his first passion before singing and this track was inspired by one of his films. “WTCF” serves as a crowd-pleaser and is often performed at GVF shows in the encore or near the end.

Released as the second promotional single from Anthem, “Watching Over” was performed countless times live between 2015-2018 leading up to its official release. A track that challenges humans to think of the earth, climate change, and the future of the planet. With a screeching guitar-driven track mixed with emotional weight, the song offers a bridge with captivating lyrics such as - “With the waters rising/And the air so thin/Still the children smiling/Can we see no sin”. The album’s third single and overall fourth #1 hit captured hearts as womens ears perked up when hearing ethereal harmonies and acoustic strums. “You’re The One” debuted just three days before the album’s release and instantly became a fan-favorite, especially since it was performed live years before. Known as the oldest track on the album, the ballad express freedom and romanticized lyrics. An acoustic track live where Jake chimes in on vocals for the chorus, the album version features all four members assembling together to create ethereal harmonies.

Traveling into “The New Day”, this track was the audition song Greta Van Fleet performed for their record label, Lava/Republic in 2016. One of the most motivating tracks on the album, the track is an acoustic ballad and provides upbeat riffs, raw acoustic guitar melodies and wavy vocals. Visuals of sunshine in blue skies and springtime happiness echo in your mind while listening to “The New Day”. Encouraging lyrics - “Love doesn’t fade away” - are comforting. The smooth bluesy guitar solo mid-song will have you dancing in the sun. “Mountain Of The Sun” is another oldie but goodie, its upbeat melodies and sliding guitar riffs along with a memorable chorus make it difficult to dislike this song. Encouraging lyrics - “Kiss the sun/Fight the fire” - are known as fan-favorite lyrics, being that tons of fans have the lyrics tattooed on them. On the sliding guitar technique, Jake states, “I put a copper slide on my ring finger of my left hand. I’ve kind of worked out a cool technique. I can slide up on that finger and bring it back down, and if I’m using open tuning, I can then fret notes using my middle finger and pinky.” The track was performed countless times before the album's release, however, it is a rare song to be performed live.

Entering a new world, “Brave New World” is and always will be the most underrated track on AOTPA. As it’s the newest song on the album and was written during recording, the song invites you into new challenges and encourages you to soar to new heights. GVF summons you into a new world with explosive and twisted guitar riffs, moody lyrics and howling vocals. Near the end of the chorus is inspiring lyrics - “Kill fear the power of lies/For we will not be hypnotized” - making a statement and molding their message to the world. The title track to one vivacious album debuted on October 5 and solidifies what Greta Van Fleet is all about. “Anthem” was originally a poem written by Josh and Jake explains this track embodies what the album means to the band. With swaying acoustic guitars and comforting vocals, its chorus is emotional enough to move you to tears. The most important part of the track - “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/And the world is only what the world is made of - symbolizes what the music is all about. Having an open mind and listening to each other, instead of tearing each other down and trying to destroy other humans, is peaceful. “Anthem” is the track that reminds us that we are all one and can coexist with each other if we truly make the effort.

Closing out Anthem Of The Peaceful Army is another old track, “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)”. Dating back as far as 2014, the track was originally titled “Lover Leaver Taker Believe Her”, and provides screeching guitar riffs, heavy vocals, excessive basslines and thundering drums. The song marries hard and blues rock to capture crunchy guitars and psychedelic melodies. When this song is performed live, it takes a dip into “Highway Tune”, off into a full-blown ten-minute jam session and back into the original track. Jake’s slides in this song will excite you as the music can spiritually take you away. When your body has ascended out of your soul to the song’s climax, you’ll know the mission’s complete.

What’s known to me as the most phenomenal album of all time, unfortunately, hasn’t spoken as well to others. But that’s what they say is… Rock n Roll. Over the years, I personally have been bullied for my taste in music, especially with Greta Van Fleet. As controversy has surrounded the band since their debut in 2017 for simply producing music they’ve wanted to give to the world, their souls, music and message remain true for anyone who’s willing to listen. Although fans come and go, Greta Van Fleet is forever in my heart, along with Anthem Of The Peaceful Army.



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