Japanese rock quartet One Ok Rock have been gaining international recognition over the past few years, from signing with Fueled By Ramen to commercial placements. After spending most of 2018 remaining silent, they’ve set off 2019 with a bang with their ninth record, ‘Eye Of The Storm’ during the tail end of the year.
This time around, the quartet opts for a sharp focus on melody and a collision of guitars and electronic influences.
Vocalist Takahiro Moriuchi signals the beginning of the record with a smooth coda. As bouncing chords and synth notes evolve, ‘Eye Of The Storm’ begins its dream pop influenced journey with its opening titular track, showcasing the dynamic skills of the group. The track runs through arpeggio guitar leads, courtesy of Toru Yamashita, a capella led sections, and a dense collage of electronic samples with ease.
The scope of the record is wide, taking influences from a variety of electronic sub genres, and its sights are set on filling stadiums. ‘Grow Old Die Young’ is a grand highlight this, unfurling rising strings and tentative verses; drummer Tomoya Kanki builds the track to an open chorus, filled with vocal hooks and thick guitars. Instead of relying on the powerful chorus, the group flirts between synth melodies, piano accompaniments, and distorted bass lines to maintain the pace.
Tracks such as ‘Push Back’ boasts Moriuchi and Yamashita displaying multiple harmonies to drive its transitions, whilst ‘Giants’ sees Moriuchi delivering snappy and percussive lines alongside muted guitar stabs. Offsetting the focus on his diverse vocal range are the subtle choices made by Yamashita and bassist Ryota Kohama.
Both players take turns throughout the record to craft memorable moments, from the pulsing bass line in ‘Changes’ forcing the track to its energetic chorus, to the overlapping lead guitar lines in final moments of ‘Worst In Me’.
Considering the release takes an eclectic range of influences, with Kanki‘s patterns transforming the aptly titled ‘Unforgettable’ demonstrating this, the record ends on a fairly safe note. ‘The Last Time’ takes the record back to a less cramped setting, focusing on chunky guitar chords and vocal ad libs to drive the track to its abrupt end.
Considering One Ok Rock have been through numerous stylistic changes, it’s exciting to hear new areas for them to explore. By developing the strength of their song writing, they have created a record in ‘Eye Of The Storm’ that may not always hit the mark, but is sure to have fans resonating the lyrics.