Greta Van Fleet: The Battle At Garden's Gate

Updated: Apr 11

Photo: Alysse Gafjken

Greta Van Fleet’s sophomore album, The Battle At Garden’s Gate (otherwise known as TBAGG) drops into the world April 16th, 2021, and it is a wild ride. Through countless interviews for this album, all four members have stated that this album is “cinematic”, “theatrical”, “a movie soundtrack”, and they were spot-on. The band has also kept relaying that this is the album they wanted to make. They felt in complete control. And the producer they worked with, Greg Kurstin (Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney, etc.) encouraged the band to grow wings and fly. And they really learned how.

The hype around this album has been insanely exciting watching singles and music videos drop, watching interviews, reading album reviews. Everything has been leading up to April 16th and fans, new and old, will absolutely rave over this album.

Photo: Alysse Gafkjen

#1 Heat Above – It’s hard to make a definite decision on what my favorite song is on this album and my overall favorite GVF song, but this one is definitely at the top. It’s such a sweet invitation, inviting you along on your journey to Garden’s Gate. With the opening of the keyboard being so welcoming and calming from Sam Kiszka (22, Bass and Keys), followed by the exciting drums from Danny Wagner (22, Drums) the song falls into place with the main guitar riff perfectly matching the keyboard riff. Josh Kiszka's (24, Vocals) vocals already sound incredibly strong, it’s as if there’s no turning back with this album. Being that this is in fact an older song (performed live at shows in 2016 & 2017), it’s no surprise that Greta Van Fleet are staying true to their roots. It’s such an uplifting and positive song, yet it doesn’t set the entire album’s tone…

The Best Lyrics:

“Life’s the story of ascending to the stars as one”

Photo: Paige Sara

#2 My Way, Soon – Jumping straight into My Way, Soon, the first single released from TBAGG back in October 2020, takes us to the next part of the album. Originally written on tour, about life on the road, the life-changing career of four boys from Frankenmuth, Michigan. About the fans, for the fans. The song speaks of traveling, the music video shows never-before-seen footage of the band in their everyday lives, and also life on the road. It’s also the band’s fifth number one hit single since their debut single Highway Tune dropped in 2017. It’s upbeat, catchy, Josh’s vocals are amazing, and it of course, has a killer guitar solo from Jake Kiszka (24, Guitar).

The Best Lyrics:

“I have but a lifetime seems so long but it flies by

And in the moments passing

I'll bear no load"

Photo: Alysse Gafkjen

#3 Broken Bells – Broken Bells takes us somewhat on a lower level, yet it’s still full of power. Debuting in March, fans and critics were already not only calling the single the best on the album but the best GVF song ever. So much more of a serious track, reflecting on possibly a free world. Possibly reflecting on the life that the first two tracks were full of. Was this song written during the pandemic and the band was reflecting on pre-pandemic life? Or is it just a life reflection in general? Since this album is “half-concept” according to Sam in Scott Lipp’s Podcast, anything is possible with this band. The track starts off slow, Josh’s vocals are soothing as well as the guitar, and the chorus really brings it up a notch. This is definitely one of their most beautiful songs. However that guitar solo… Just took my breath away, to say the least. This song is such a power ballad, within not even twelve hours of its release, people were absolutely raving over it.

The Best Lyrics:

Though I believe the sun still shines and

I believe there comes a time

When out of silence we will sing

And even broken bells will ring

Not all the answers are the same

Yet we still play the game”

#4 Built By Nations – Built By Nations is where we begin to get chaotic. Yes, begin. The opening almost sounds like sirens, except it’s a guitar. It almost sounds like you’re driving down a road and you slam into this great guitar riff. It’s of course pure Rock ‘N’ Roll and what Greta Van Fleet is truly known for. This is where we get into the windy road on our journey to Garden’s Gate. This is also the first track we hear those background vocals. This song is about the beginning of the long and winding road on a journey. Speaking of the devil. Sins. Cracks in the road. But this is guaranteed to be a fan favorite. I believe this is where our story truly starts for this album.

The Best Lyrics:

“Woah the trouble get so loud

When all of hell tries to drag you down

Woah the wounded warrior on this battle ground”

Photo: Matthew Daniel Siskin

#5 Age Of Machine – Already loved by fans, it’s as if this song is actually referencing to the character of the last track. Machine. This song starts off slow, picks up at the chorus, has an amazing guitar solo, and then finishes beautifully. What the world is doing to this character (or ourselves) on our journey. In a recent interview with Loudwire, Sam explained, “There’s this beauty that a child has and every day you grow up if you’re not aware. There’s this raw innocence and pure beauty and you see the world in all these different ways. And you get put into this society and you get kind of molded.” There’s so much that goes on in every single one of these songs, but it’s even crazier in this song. “We need some healing” is possibly leading us into Tears Of Rain?

The Best Lyrics:

“Feeling oh god the feeling

We need some healing we need some healing

God knows if you feel defeated you have been cheated

You have retreated”

Photo: Paige Sara

#6 Tears Of Rain – I believe this is kind of where these songs really start tying into each other. Things got chaotic with Nations, realization started happening in Machine, so it’s almost as if Tears Of Rain is like a deep breath. The piano in this song brings such comfort. The opening lyrics consist of “Bathing in the light around us, praying for the night to comfort thee”, which can be visualized as this character (or once again, all of us) simply stopping, thinking, meditating on what is happening within this journey. It’s a bit full of fear and a cry for help. The ending of this song is so perfect and I love how creative this band gets. The song itself sounds so amazingly theatrical, I truly feel like I am listening to the soundtrack of a musical, play, or movie. But that’s the entire point of this album. When Josh sings, “Who will bring the rain”, I shed a tear due to how beautiful this album has already been, how far this band has come, how they’ve grown.

The Best Lyrics:

“Who will bring the rain?”

#7 Stardust Chorus – The dramatic vibe continues in the beginning of this song with suspense… Has it rained? The keyboard, drums, and guitar all to start off the song, the vocals, you’re definitely listening to an Opera by now. Jake with his guitar riff totally invites us into this song as well. The way this song starts out, it’s as if things might be looking up. There’s definitely a story being told throughout this whole album and I have to disagree with Sam and say this is a total concept. In the middle of this cinematic track, there’s so much happening you almost can’t keep up. But then again, it’s so easy to visualize everything happening. Then by the chorus, we’re in not only church, we’re at mass.

The Best Lyrics:

“It has been said by the lights of the living and the dead

Make your bed

Even the sinners go drink the wine

Break the bread”

Photo: Paige Sara

#8 Light My Love – Moving onto my personal yet default favorite song of the album because it is thee love song, Light My Love, which has been performed at sound check numerous times, starts off with the piano and you can automatically start swaying. And it’s so musical. Everyone and everything is so in sync. Then Josh begins to sing, “Can you light my love” and I again, shed a tear. It’s such a calming, yet powerful song. And of course, it’s a ballad. Somewhat going back to the hope and positivity of some of the earlier songs, “Watch as our world has begun”. This album is just playing out in my head like a film and I can visualize the most beautiful things happening during this song. This song will (hopefully) be performed live over and over again, and of course, the women will lose their minds over it, as they should. This will truly be a beautiful song performed live. Mixing together Rock N Roll and ballads is just the best thing ever and it sounds so amazing. The vocals. The guitar. The piano. The drums. The strings.

The Best Lyrics:

“Your mind is a stream of colors

Extending beyond our sky

A land of infinite wonders

A billion lightyears from here now”

Photo: Paige Sara

#9 Caravel – Jake and his guitar get us back on track and remind us we’re still at battle. All of a sudden, we’re on a Caravel. Fans will definitely cling to this song as it’s very Rock N Roll sounding. Between the guitar and a lower range for Josh, this is somewhat of a mysterious song. We’re not really sure of where we’re at, until we reach the chorus…

The Best Lyrics:

Sail, to the end of the world, whoa

For death or glory ooooh

Bow, with your face to the sky, yeah

We are the movement ooooh”

#10 The Barbarians – We’re thrown straight into a Jake Kiszka guitar solo, which is always a great time. Within this song, we’re nearing Garden’s Gate, we’re so close to it. Smack dab in the middle of this song, the keyboard keeps playing higher and higher. It’s as if we’re being lifted to Garden’s Gate. Or things are happening. Things could be getting better. You can tell the band was definitely jammin’ during this entire album, but especially in this song. The ending to this song is so perfect again with the keyboard. Such a story.

The Best Lyrics:

“Are we prisoners or renegades?”

Photo: Alysse Gafkjen

#11 Trip The Light Fantastic – We are so close to finishing this album, it’s crazy. The beginning of this song sounds so psychedelic, hence the name. It feels like I’m walking into a nightclub or a bar in the 70s. But it’s fun. I believe in conclusion with this song, we’re making a very important decision, according to the lyrics. As Sam has mentioned before, it takes a little bit of extra brain power to listen to and fully comprehend their music and not everyone can do that. So thanks for that, Sam.

The Best Lyrics:

“To comet across the blistering hue

Beyond the spaces of false and true

Away from a world, we have riddled with scars

To be wholly free and amongst the stars”

#12 Weight Of Dreams – To fans, it’s known as Black Flag Exposition. If you’ve been to a Greta Van Fleet show between 2018-2019, or you’ve watched their Red Rocks performance, you definitely know this song. I just knew this song would be on this album, there was no escaping it. I know this song so well, I hear the live version playing in my head every once in a while. I know this song from front to back, especially that solo. And when Jake hits that high note, THEE high note. Jake is doing so much with his guitar within this song, your mind can’t even comprehend all of it. This is the perfect song to end this album. In the middle of the song (because it’s almost nine minutes), if you focus your mind on it, you can visualize it. My perception is (while Jake’s ripping on guitar) people are drinking spoiled wine and possibly not feeling so fine after. With the lyrics of the chorus, I think we all can figure out and have figured out what’s happening. This could be about a character, the band, or all of us. Critics have mentioned there is a cliff-hanger at the end and I’d have to agree. There seems like there’s more to the story…

The Best Lyrics:

"Gold mines melting men in the sunshine

Spoiled wine tastes so sweet we have gone blind"

Photo: Alysse Gafkjen

Greta Van Fleet has gone from playing shitty (and probably dangerous) bars in Detroit and Saginaw to selling over two million albums, over one million concert tickets, have five number one hit singles, have a number one album (Anthem Of The Peaceful Army, Billboard), won a Grammy in 2019 for Best Rock Album along with four nominations, and the list just goes on. This album is set to exceed expectations, but Greta Van Fleet has more within them than we’ll ever know.

Greta Van Fleet

The Battle At Garden's Gate





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