Photo Credit: Neil Krug
The two most Led Zeppelin moments on Starcatcher, Greta Van Fleet’s third record, are the blissful “When The Levee Breaks”-inspired harmonica solo at the end of “The Falling Sky” and the drum intro stolen from that same song on “Sacred The Thread.” Oh yes, the band everyone loves to hate but who’s still selling out arenas all over the world is back – and though they’re getting further away from the original Led Zeppelin sound it’s still very apparent who they’re getting their inspiration from.
Still, I hate the idea of hating on Greta Van Fleet just because of their self-assigned mission: to sound like Led Zeppelin. In fact, there are way too few bands attempting to recreate the heavy blues rock sound of the early ’70s in today’s rock scene. But trying to replicate the sound of arguably the greatest rock band that’s ever existed is not easy. Furthermore, Greta Van Fleet isn’t making it easy for themselves. The problem is that they’re constantly turning down the bluesy stuff (oh well, there’s “Runaway Blues” but it’s lasting a brief 1:17 minutes) while they’re enhancing the progressive, glossy, pretentious, pompous aspects.
Piece by piece, it works alright. “Meeting The Master” with its impressive acoustic fingerpicking is their “The Rain Song,” a stunning fantasy ballad with nonsense lyrics about what could be about either death or life depending on your mood. Instrumentally, it’s hard not to be impressed especially by guitarist Jake Kiszka’s guitar playing. He’s the band member who comes closest to replicating his idol Jimmy Page’s sound and style.
But let’s face the elephant in the room: his brother Josh Kiszka. Ultimately, he’s the personification of the old saying “Just because you can reach all the high notes doesn’t mean you should.” He is a poseur, a showman in glitter and peals who’s sweeping around in white cloaks and fantastical jumpsuits, like some kind of a young Freddie Mercury making a Robert Plant imitation or vice versa. And most of the time, it sounds terrible – deafening.
What made Led Zeppelin such an immortal group was that they had the heaviest blues rock singer in the game, for their time most technically skilled guitarist, the tightest bassist, and maybe most importantly, a powerhouse of a drummer in John Bonham. Greta Van Fleet aims at the brightest stars the genre ever had to offer, and they’re not even reaching halfway. But as a Walmart Led Zeppelin copy, they’re damn good.