February 11, 2019 ONE OK ROCK – Eye of the Storm (Album Review)
ONE OK ROCK have been making major waves in the music scene for over a decade now. Since forming in Tokyo, Japan in 2005, this Rock group has plunged into multiple genres, making quite a name for themselves in Japan, Europe, and North America in the process. Now, after massive tours in support of their 2017 LP, Ambitions, which soared to the number one spot on the charts in Japan, ONE OK ROCK are back with Eye of the Storm. Set to release in the US on Friday, February 15th through Fueled By Ramen, Eye of the Storm sees the band traversing new musical territory and branching into unexplored genres.
Though Eye of the Storm is only the band’s third US release, it is actually their ninth studio LP. Quite an impressive feat for a band that has only been together for about 13 years. That in mind, it should come as no surprise that ONE OK ROCK want to explore new genres and push their songwriting to new limits.
In previous releases, Hard Rock, Post-Hardcore, and Emo were among the band’s key sounds. However, just about any track from Eye of the Storm would feel right at home played in an arena or nestled among Top 40 radio tracks like those from Fueled By Ramen graduates Panic! At the Disco or Paramore.
Opener “Eye of the Storm” is among the heaviest offerings, blending electronics with catchy and intricate guitar melodies played behind an explosive chorus. Vocalist Takahiro “Taka” Moriuchi maintains the raw emotion that drove the band’s previous releases, and it is clear that he is finally taking the steps to explore his full vocal range. Easily one of the album’s best tracks with its high energy and unique composition, it is no wonder the band chose it as their title track.
Following that up with lead single “Stand Up Fit In,” a soft, subtle ballad dealing with societal and peer pressure, this track gives the first real hints of ONE OK ROCK’s new sounds. It is no stretch to imagine this song played on the radio and taking off as it has already earned several million plays on streaming services. Keeping those more subdued tones going with “Head High” and “Wasted Night,” the band try to reach for high emotion with these ballads but often do not quite grab it. However, “Push Back” and “Giants” use their positive message and infectious beats to become some of the album’s more memorable moments.
For those unfamiliar with ONE OK ROCK, Eye of the Storm makes an excellent jumping off point as every track is approachable in a way that their previous releases were not, but that approachability comes with an unfortunate loss of character with a few tracks feeling forgettable.
The change in sound is quite a leap, and while many of the tracks do not pack the same punch as those Hard Rock bangers from Ambitions, there is still a decent amount of character to be found. However, too often Eye of the Storm exchanges raw emotion for lush production, feeling instead like ONE OK ROCK are trying too hard to appeal to a wider audience by conforming to more palatable sounds. By shedding the heavy Hard Rock guitars and grittier vocals, the band have lost some of the punch that attracted audiences to them in the first place. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Eye of the Storm 3.5 out of 5 stars.