Eye of the Storm
The international exposure gained from 2017’s Ambitions, ONE OK ROCK’s first album on the iconic pop-punk imprint Fueled By Ramen, introduced the band to new audiences as well as collaborators from a different scene. The fresh dynamic born from these new creative relationships shines through on the Japanese quartet’s ninth album, Eye of the Storm. Gathering pop songwriters and producers to help craft the tracks, the band makes a dramatic shift from the arena-punk sound it had pursued since forming in Tokyo in 2005. From percussion to production flourishes, ONE OK ROCK aims for music outside of the traditional rock-band mold on Eye of the Storm. “In the Stars” and “Head High” split the difference between hip-hop and stadium rock through their crisp marching-band drums. A sonar synth blip and skittering hi-hats echo in the spacious music of “Grow Old Die Young,” which grabs from R&B in build as much as lyrics. Armed with buzzing synth and a booming backbeat, “Wasted Nights” eyes the EDM-inspired stadium-pop presaged by former labelmate fun. Guitars figure throughout, but there’s less focus on main riffs than on the production as a whole. While Eye of the Storm chases a different kind of style from ONE OK ROCK’s guitar-centric works, the band’s approach only strengthens the emotional power behind its lyrics, which are rooted in spirit in the rallying cries of pop-punk. The drum rolls and the mighty backing vocals transforming “Push Back” into a warrior song are designed to slingshot frontman Taka’s us-against-them hooks to the heavens. Meanwhile, the be-yourself chorus of “Stand Out Fit In” sticks out like a raw wound through its confessional lyrics that reveal themselves from a rather tender synth-pop arrangement. Eye of the Storm shows ONE OK ROCK embracing studio pop craft to better deliver its message.