As relative newcomers to the hardcore scene, The Royal‘s Dreamcatchers is the tremendous full-length debut from the same Dutch hardcore band that delivered their first EP, Origins, in 2012. The band has left the simplicity of Origins behind as The Royal stretched themselves both musically, thematically, and lyrically on Dreamcatchers.
This five piece band combines the talents of Semuel Pisarahu with his raw and precise vocals, bassist Loet Brinkmans, Tom Van Ekerschot on drums, and guitarists Pim Wesselink and Dick Liefting, to create a hardcore dynamo. Past experience of performing with Parkway Drive, The Ghost inside, Asking Alexandria and A Day To Remember has proven that The Royal is set to take the reins as a musical innovator as they blend progressive and symphonic elements into traditional hardcore. All of which has allowed The Royal to create a sound that is, undeniably, their own.
While The Royal are self-professed Christians, the band members have made it clear that they do not profess their faith through their lyrics, but write about their personal lives and the issues they encounter. This becomes evident when exploring the lyrical content of the 13 songs found on Dreamcatchers as some listeners may take exception to The Royal’s strong words and dark topics.
The elegant prelude to Dreamcatchers begins with the beautiful instrumental, “Hymn” which builds into the power of “Spirit Walker” then segues into “The New Breed”. Pisarahu’s vocals deliver thoughts on conflict, struggle and repression.
Hold me down, we’re not giving up
Cause we’re on top of a world that commits to us
Free these streets, we are paving the roads again
Uphold and never look back
Set me apart from the careless
Praying for the chance to exist
Now I realize that I have this
Pick me up and give me the right to form a voice for the voiceless – “The New Breed”
Ryan Kirby from Fit For A King shares his talents as The Royal drew on the abilities of guest vocalists to widen the diversity found on Dreamcatchers. “Earth Gazer” finds Ryan roaring:
I am bound to
Stray across this earth
I reconstruct my perspective for i hold roots in this dirt
And i will serve my purpose honouring my world
As i recognize that
I am reborn – “Earth Gazer”
The powerhouse title track “Dreamcatchers” carries the tone of the album, seamlessly blending in The Royal’s signature symphonic elements, which in turn heads for an abrupt change into the harp driven instrumental “Haven” before transitioning into the brutality of “Mad Deuce” one of the hardest driven tracks on Dreamcatchers.
Now I’m a servant of death
And I will never back down
For I let fear grab me by my god damned neck
I only fight for my brothers
So let your bullets fly out to whistle
And buzz around my f—ing head – “Mad Deuce”
“Lilith” and “Defender” are as conjoined as twins, sharing a common theme of overcoming torment and struggling to be freed of hands that seek to hold you down. During “Halfhearted”, I, the Breather’s Shawn Spann joins in with his higher pitched vocals to make a counterpoint to Pisarahu’s lower range. Their divergent vocal styles mesh symbiotically during the song, which I find to be the most memorable on Dreamcatchers.
The fast paced “Skyler” leads into “Agra”, the final vocal track of Dreamcatchers. “Agra” is a song that troubles me, as I’ve failed to determine who is narrating the song. Is it the lyricist struggling with self-adulation or an enemy’s response to the actions of the narrator?. I’ll leave that to the listener to decide.
I’ve been wandering around for too long
I always ask myself
Why am I living in this lie?
I never asked for this
To be the one who holds the key of deceit.
There is nothing to hold on to
Now let me stand firm with my feet on the ground.
I need to break free from what is written in stone
So I can live this life on my own terms
Watching you suffocate
in a sea of your own lies.
While you’re fighting for your fictitious life.
You witnessed the fate of the ones before you.
Your life flashes before your eyes
As you spill your last breath out of your lungs.
Take one final look at your surroundings.
Before I send you to the depths of hell. -“Agra”
As it began, so it finishes; Dreamcatchers ends with a beautiful instrumental rendition of The Royal 2012 song, “Origins”.
The darkness of a shadow may mask the view of a breathtaking scene, but the beauty still remains. Much the same holds true with Dreamcatchers. It’s a work of superior artistry, backed by the harshness of a honest view of the world and the trials that fall upon us.