First Impressions: From the Fires — Greta van Fleet

Greta Van Fleet From The Fires.jpeg
Retrieved from Wikipedia

Released: November 10, 2017
Personnel:
Josh Kiszka – vocals
Jake Kiszka – guitar
Sam Kiszka – bass
Danny Wagner – percussion

These days, Greta van Fleet seems to be getting a great deal of attention in music circles. They’re selling out shows like hotcakes and raking in awards left and right. Don Airey of Deep Purple, one of my favorite living musicians, praised their energy in a recent interview he gave. Many young rock ‘n roll fans of the 70s whom I know are particularly enthusiastic, seeing this as a return to the good old days of 70s rock, the first round which they (myself included) missed out by virtue of not being born yet. One I know even claimed they’re a better Led Zeppelin than the original.

Amidst all this glowing praise, I decided I had to get in on this and bought their EP, From the Fires, at my local music store. I first listened to it while doing some housekeeping a few days ago, and decided that just getting some thoughts down here while it’s still relatively fresh in my mind.

I will be honest, I can see potential there. It’s to get nostalgic, and for a group whose sound is so derivative of the early 70s hard rock and blues rock titans, they do a fantastic job of capturing the nostalgia. Furthermore, there’s a ton of energy and excitement in here, the type I often find is lacking in modern music. From that, there is no doubt that the musicians’ hearts are in their work for the right reasons.

Potential, however, is where the appeal ends for me. I cannot for the life of me remember much of the music after turning it off. I’ve given it a few more relistens in the period since I first spun the CD, but this has not particularly changed. None of the lyrics, nor any of the melodies, really stood out to me all that much. I’m unsure as to the source of this lack of memorability.  Again, this might be my personal listening bias. However, the fact remains that it doesn’t stay with me. I am hopeful that with a bit more time in the studio and on the road, they’ll mature into a band with songs that get in your ear and stay there.

Furthermore, while I am impressed with the ambition and energy here, I am not overly impressed with the musicianship. Danny Wagner’s drum lines do very little for me beyond simply demarcate the tempo. Meanwhile, Jake Kiszka and Sam Kiszka’s work on instruments is adequate, but neither one seems to be particularly ready to make waves in their respective pools. I will note here that upon a quick relisten, the work on bass by Sam Kiszka impressed me the most in this area, though still not overmuch. Last but not least, I would like to make note of Josh Kiszka’s work on vocals. I want to laud his potential. The comparisons to Robert Plant are indeed apt, and I can see the beginnings of an impressive range forming. However, there is a somewhat harsh and grating quality to his voice that I’m not too fond of, as well as a seeming thinness to it. Potential, again, but that is where it stops.

I suppose, in the end, I find nothing offensive in their work and will continue to follow their development. However, I am not, as of yet, ready to declare myself a fan.

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