One OK…Rock?

By: Claudia Siregar |

As one of the leading acts in the J-rock scene, ONE OK ROCK has found themselves at the heights of international fame. Having collaborated with big names in the Western music scene such as Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Avril Lavigne (and soon to open for Ed Sheeran), ONE OK ROCK is a force to be reckoned. They are back with their ninth studio album “Eye of the Storm” – a fresh release following the singles “Stand Out Fit In”, “Change”, and “Wasted Nights”. Though the album received an abundance of praises, whether it retains ONE OK ROCK’s original J-rock sound is definitely still up for debate.

Let’s start by discussing the album itself, track-by-track. The album opens with “Eye of the Storm”, a pretty promising track with vocalist Taka Moriuchi softly singing over synths and beat drops – and later on, electric guitars. Moving on, the album continued with “Stand Out Fit In”, a pop rock tune about standing up for yourself and what makes you unique and “Head High”, another poppy tune with sharp electro beats and synths, decorated by Taka’s falsetto. “Grow Old Die Young” is a cheery tune dominated by (again) synths and acoustic guitars – this time featuring Taka’s signature raspy, high pitched vocals. “Push Back”, “Wasted Nights”, “Change” are also decorated by Taka’s signature “rocker” vocals and somewhat motivational lyrics about being young and busting through a ceiling, though the music is still less aggressive compared to what ONE OK ROCK is famous for. “Letting Go”, an acoustic guitar-heavy number, gives off some Ed Sheeran vibes, with light folk pop influences and as-a-matter-of-fact lyrics about a failed relationship. Definitely not the ONE OK ROCK we know. “Worst In Me”, however, brings us back to the “35xxxv” era, with stellar production and rock-influenced synths. “In The Stars”, a track featuring Kiiara, is a dreamy, synth-filled (yes, again) pop rock track, with Taka singing softly (no more raspy rocker vocals) with Kiiara. “Giants” is yet another “I wouldn’t know this was OOR if it weren’t for Taka’s voice” number, with keyboard sounds and light beats and cheery synths, followed by “Unforgettable”, which is, ironically, the most forgettable track off the album despite of the meaningful lyrics about wanting to leave a legacy. Surprise surprise, the last track of the album, “The Last Time”, is the only track of the album reminiscent of the band’s signature J-rock sound – though not quite.

The album has a poppier, lighter, and brighter sound than ONE OK ROCK’s previous releases, marked by the dominant use of acoustic guitars, softer electric guitars, and upbeat tempo throughout the album. Though we’d still say they’ve still got the emo “why can’t I fit in, why is everyone and everything so heartbreaking” overtones in their lyrics, it’s safe to say that ONE OK ROCK has left their roots. The lack of J-rock (and rock, in general) influences in ONE OK ROCK’s recent works has been a topic of discussion ever since their previous album, “Ambitions” came out (some even claimed this dated back to the release of “35xxxv”, in which they collaborated with a number of American emo/metalcore musicians). Whether it’s a good or a bad thing, we can’t really tell. Bands evolve over time, and so does ONE OK ROCK. One thing for sure, they’ve evolved into something completely different from what they were before.

Favourite tracks: Eye of the Storm, Change, The Last Time

Listen to the album here

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