Employing an earworm-heavy blend of hard rock and blues, Greta Van Fleet emerged in the mid-2010s while the bandmembers were still in their teens. Raised on a steady diet of classic FM vinyl, the sibling-led group's brawny blend of stadium rock and rhythm & blues evoked both the Who and Led Zeppelin, with the latter act looming large due to frontman Josh Kiszka's sonic similitude to Zep crooner Robert Plant. Choice placement in a 2017 episode of Showtime's Shameless drove the fiery single "Highway Tune" up the charts, and by 2018 the band were appearing on everything from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to Elton John's Academy Award Party. Anthem of the Peaceful Army, the group's 2018 debut album, cemented Greta Van Fleet's status as the most commercially successful American rock band of their generation, a position they consolidated with The Battle at Garden's Gate, their 2021 sophomore set.
Raised on rock in the Michigan city of Frankenmuth -- a small town known as "Little Bavaria" and best known for Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, a Christmas paradise that's open year-round -- the brothers Kiszka (twins Josh on vocals and Jake on guitar, plus younger brother Sam on bass) formed the band in 2012 with drummer Kyle Hauck, who was swapped out for Daniel Wagner in 2013. Early in 2014, they recorded a live EP -- aptly titled Greta Van Fleet: Live in Detroit -- and their original track "Standing On" appeared in a Detroit ad for the Chevy Equinox. Soon, the group were signed to Lava Records by Jason Flom and the label pushed "Highway Tune" in early 2017, landing it on the Showtime series Shameless and using it as the anchor for the group's debut EP, Black Smoke Rising.
Later that November, the band released a double EP, From the Fires, which included one album consisting of four new tracks and another four-song set that reassembled their Black Smoke Rising EP. In the U.S., From the Fires topped Billboard's Hard Rock Albums chart and rocketed Greta Van Fleet to global success, charting throughout Europe and reaching number four in New Zealand. Endorsements from classic rock icons soon followed, with fellow Michigander Bob Seger pegging them to open a show and Robert Plant going on record to say that "they are Led Zeppelin I."
In July 2018, Greta Van Fleet issued "When the Curtain Falls," the first single from their debut full-length, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, which arrived in October. The album was met with some notoriously scathing reviews, many critics pulling no punches in tearing apart the group's Zeppelin-informed throwback sound and image. Nonetheless, it was a hit with fans and sold well, peaking at number three on the Billboard 200 and topping the rock albums chart. At the 61st annual Grammys, the band were nominated for Best New Artist as well as Best Rock Performance for "Highway Tune." Though they didn't win in those categories, From the Fires took home the Grammy for Best Rock Album. Greta Van Fleet contributed the Anthem of the Peaceful Army outtake "Always There" to the 2019 film A Million Little Pieces, and in 2020 they issued the singles "My Way, Soon" and "Age of Machine" ahead of the April 2021 arrival of their second studio LP The Battle at Garden's Gate.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo