[Review] Dreamcatcher deliver “JUSTICE” through dramatic battle music

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Long-time favorites of mine, Dreamcatcher have returned with their new VirtuouS album and with its single “JUSTICE“. It comes at a somewhat unusual juncture for them, as it’s been a relatively long time between mini-albums of the same era (due to touring and what not) and it also comes off the divisive and more trendy title track “OOTD“, which left questions about the direction going forward.

Well, for “JUSTICE”, Dreamcatcher go back to basics a bit here, returning to a proven alternative rock song structure from that they’ve used to great success in the past. Things begin slowly with rather minimalistic verses, highlighted by a stomping percussion hits and claps, with background vocals and rumbling in the background leading to promise of more. That gives the song a platform to explode from and room for the vocals to stand on their own, but inevitably then what matters is whether the tension can be cashed in.

So a lot rides on the chorus providing that cathartic release and sense of grandiose, and thankfully “JUSTICE” attains that by playing as something like a dramatic fight song. It goes from a rumbling pre-chorus/refrain into a soaring belting of “justice makes me fight, justice makes me alive” while releasing an aggressive drum accompaniment and an electric guitar riff that’s a highlight in itself. The anthemic element feels built for a concert/live performance, with the sparse lyrics and drawn out notes oddly reminding me of something like “Man In A Box” (different sound, obviously). It makes for a rather motivating soundscape that seems almost designed to ready your party for a boss fight or something.

That said, while the chorus has continued to leave the desired impact on repeat listens, two things give me pause about immediately putting this into the upper echelon of their discography: the downshifts feel more abrupt here because the chorus goes for broke from the get go, and — somewhat related — despite the song’s length it feels like they missed a shot to really mix it up towards the end with a bridge that was fleshed out more that contrasts with the simpler chorus. We shall see. In terms of the music video, it’s full of lore and Easter Egg references to past stuff, while the plot nicely depicts the defiance about standing against evil/for yourself, though they do continue the lower budget film-in-a-box type stuff for the most part even if the sets are visually impactful.

So “JUSTICE” feels like a part-stabilizing, part-exciting return to form of sorts for Dreamcatcher, as if you’ve liked their songs in the past — especially like “Deja Vu” — it’s hard to see much to quibble with here since the rock melodies and especially the vocal execution were great. Whether this will end up amongst Dreamcatcher’s best is still a question worth asking, though it’s honestly a good problem to have again.