ONE OK ROCK are a Japanese rock band who formed in Tokyo, in 2005. The band currently consists of Takahiro Moriuchi (vocals), Toru Yamashita (guitar), Ryota Kohama (bass), and Tomoya Kanki (drums). Since forming, the band have played many different styles of music, from alternative rock to emo and even post-hardcore to their most recent, pop rock style. In 2016, the band signed to Fueled By Ramen, releasing their eighth studio album, Ambitions, featuring collaborations with Avril Lavigne, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Alex Gaskarth (All Time Low). This year, (2019) sees the release of their ninth studio album (although only their third US release), Eye Of The Storm. Here’s what we have to say about it…
From the very start of Eye Of The Storm, it’s clear that ONE OK ROCK have made a conscious departure from the previous, emo, alternative rock and post-hardcore incarnations, favouring a much more pop-led sound. That’s not a bad thing though, as this is a brilliantly-crafted pop powerhouse of a record, that is sure to further cement their position as one of big players in the pop rock genre (alongside label mates like Panic! At The Disco and Against The Current. In fact ‘Eye Of The Storm’ and ‘Worst In Me’ are almost an obvious transitioning from their old sound to their new, blending their alternative rock roots with their new, more synth-driven pop elements.
There’s a real passion and raw talent to singer Takahiro “Taka” Moriuchi‘s vocals throughout the record too, as he explores the full extent of his vocal range, pulling off some stunning falsetto notes, intertwined with soaring choruses and exquisitely long-held notes.
‘Stand Out Fit In’ is testament to this – it’s very much an anthem about embracing people’s differences, with the goosebump-inducing, falsetto lines, “They yell, they preach, I’ve heard it all before. Be this, be that, I’ve heard it before.” It’s definitely a track that’s going to capture the hearts of many!
It’s actually very hard to pin-point just a few favourite tracks but ‘Push Back’ is wonderful for its gang vocal harmonies, like a modern-day Queen track. The descending melody echoing throughout the song is truly captivating too. ‘Wasted Nights’ is all about making the most of your life and enjoying each other’s company and the line, “Let’s live like we’re immortal, Maybe just for tonight, We’ll think about tomorrow (yeah), When the sun comes up,” is poetic, conjuring up nostalgic imagery and the underlying gospel vocals are stunning. The video only makes the track even more epic too (see below)! Even ‘Change’ – there’s definitely something a little boyband about the song (like 5 Seconds Of Summer meets One Direction), with the synth-sounding guitar lines, but the melodies are passionate and the message is poignant, positive and uplifting, “Hey, You know it’s not too late for us to make a change, You gotta listen to your heart what does it say? No matter how much we might bend, we will not break.”
It’s great to see that after nine albums in thirteen years, a band can still find ways to push themselves to adapt and grow, and be completely unafraid to try new directions.
That’s not to say there aren’t other special moments throughout the album; ‘Head High’ is definitely a pop track and whilst there isn’t much depth behind the lyrics or songwriting on it, it’s certainly catchy! ‘Letting Go’ really stands out for being so unique to the rest of the record – a calm little, acoustic-led track that is so beautifully understated, dealing with getting over a relationship and coming to terms with it. ‘Unforgettable’ has some definite dance music vibes to it, with the intense drum beats and whistling in the chorus, but with guitars thrown in. It’s quite a unique blend of genres.
‘Giants’ leads from delicate verses into a big chorus and has a strong Take That vibe to it, whilst ‘In The Stars’ adds a little vocal diversity with Kiiara featuring on the track, accompanied by a military-style beat.
‘Grow Old Die Young’ is a perplexing track though; it has a strong melody in the chorus but certain elements of it are very mediocre – a synth sound which doesn’t really fit the song and then there’s the lyrics, “I want the cause of my death, to be amazing sex,” which is honestly pretty cringe!
The album actually draws to a powerful close with ‘The Last Time’, led by a really strong chorus melody, topped off with a raspy, scream-like vocal that just knocks the record out of the park, right at the last second.
Eye Of The Storm is an interesting release for the band, as it’s their most commercial-sounding release to date, meaning it’s very palatable, for a broad range of listeners and is certainly bound to pick up a lot of new fans along the way. However, it could be argued that elements of depth and sincerity about their songwriting have been somewhat lost, rendering some of the tracks a little forgettable.
The drastic change in sound is definitely going to be felt by fans of their previous release, Ambitions, as some of the more emotive lyricism and raw instrumentation, has been exchanged for top-rate production values but at its heart, it is clearly still a ONE OK ROCK album.
That said, it’s equally great to see that after nine albums in thirteen years, a band can still find ways to push themselves to adapt and grow, and be completely unafraid to try new directions, and for that, this album should be admired. It’s a great record, with some banging tunes on and I can’t wait to hear what the band do next!
‘Eye Of The Storm’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/eye-of-the-storm/1441817576
Eye Of The Storm on Spotify
Stand Out Fit In (Official Video)
Wasted Nights (Official Video)
Change (Official Video)
We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s ninth studio album, Eye Of The Storm? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or join the conversation via our social media.
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Matt – Muzik Speaks