Dreamcatcher ‘Raid of Dream’ Album Review
Dreamcatchers catch and conceal nightmares, protecting us from all the horror, but the girls of Dreamcatcher don’t do the same—they are the nightmares themselves.
With the concept of escaping nightmares being the sole Sol around which everything revolves, Dreamcatcher have always presented us with their signature horror concept—Gothic and Victorian, fierce martial art-flavoured choreographies, and battle-cry guitars. Their music has been material for comparison to the alternative rock of anime OSTs, and they revel in this genre. Irrespective of the no-concept change, Dreamcatcher’s releases always manage to stay flavourful and ostensibly new-sounding. Their releases tend to be consistent in their delivery and focus on the group’s concept more than anything.
This mini-album is also a collaboration with the RPG mobile game King’s Raid, whose battle-themed nature is greatly complemented by the music release.
The intro starts off with a classical piano, bringing in lush synth strings, then leading to a gorgeous melisma of cut-and-edited vocals and heavy PC synths. The guitars come in later on and sing their hearts out to the full-bodied percussion.
The melodic component of the track is rich, giving us diverse melodies all within a time frame of one minute and thirty-one seconds. The only shortcoming of the track is that it leaves something to be desired, a bigger bloom maybe, one that we never get. Its epic build-up is finally its doom.
02. “Deja Vu”
The track starts off with a simplistic piano and warm vocals, giving it the feel of a ballad, but then there is a surprise factor as the orgasmic synth strings come in the pre-chorus, creating an epic build-up to which the track drops—the drop is heavy and immense by pop standards. This contrast between the light and the dark, the yin and yang, the floaty and the heavy, the major and minor, makes the track work wonders. It is almost Biblical, the flavour of the track.
There are background vocals singing monosyllabic verses during the chorus, which gives it the feeling of a grand Gregorian chant choir in an echoey chapel. The beautifully sung falsetto lines in the bridge sound like warmth and intimacy, sucking the darkness out of the track for a couple seconds.
The last chorus undergoes a fantastic short modulation then resolves back to the original key, with Siyeon’s bombastic vocals carrying the already afloat instrumental.
I would like to digress and talk about how well the music complements the track, especially the parts where Yoohyeon has visions (the “deja vu”) of the other girls of Dreamcatcher she has banished after killing JiU to become the empress.
03. “The Curse of the Spider”
This is one of the tracks on the album that sounds closer to J-rock releases, especially since it nestles in the synth-rock vein. “The Curse of the Spider” begins with heated restless synths and urgent rock percussion, then cools with a revolving synth as the soft vocals wash away any remnants of the previous insurgence.
The chorus is an affair of whimsical rock riffs and J-rock sounding vocals—Siyeon’s vocal technique is heavily rooted in rock with the anthemic power and the little rock ministrations her vocals display. Full-on belting is Siyeon’s specialty, and it leaves a heavy imprint on Dreamcatcher’s music.
The second verse brings change with the background guitars constantly building up, unlike the quieter first verse. The bridge has Dami’s typical rap verse which brings respite from all the melodic singing. However, the track ends in a rather anticlimactic manner with only the guitars and the percussion supporting the instrumental.
04. “Silent Night”
The track starts off with the kick-drums and a synthesized guitar sound, eventually coming to a standstill in the initially instrumentally sparse chorus which fills up with instruments as the track follows. High falsetto notes in the pre-chorus background are a great touch as they help build-up to the shockingly amazing chorus.
The chorus hits you with surprise and the originally pop song transforms into this rave-techno hybrid with the strings coming in helping it to carry on, leaving a pleasant aftertaste in your ears. Vocoder sampling in the background of the chorus is noticeable and done tastefully as it further adds an important detail to the track. The staccato synths in the chorus give a sense of urgency, as well as the beat changing thrice. Arpeggiated synths arrive in the last chorus giving it an 80s video game feel in a totally different tempo as compared to the previous choruses.
“I don’t want to see your blood,” sing Dreamcatcher, to relieve themselves from the cycle of violence. This track is a stylistic achievement for Dreamcatcher and a gem in their discography.
The ending ballad of the album falls flat, as do usual ballads. The acoustic guitar along with the piano and synth strings complement each other well, but the track still fails to offer any fresher perspective on the genre.
There are, however, some pop-rock elements in the song that are enjoyable: for example, the guitars and Siyeon’s vocals. However, the track overall fails to pleasantly surprise you as the other tracks did.
Dreamcatcher have a great and diverse ensemble: there is a high, anthemic voice like Siyeon’s; pop-suited softer voices like SuA’s and Yoohyeon’s; and deeper, heavier voices like Dami’s and Handong’s. They make wonderful use of their ensemble in their music, balancing the highs and the lows. A polished release, Raid of Dream had some astounding musical components in it, but the tracks were still something you would only expect Dreamcatcher to do.