One OK Rock

Eye of the Storm

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Charging forth with an arsenal of inspirational millennial anthems, Japanese rock outfit One OK Rock graduates from scrappy punks into stadium-sized, motivational titans with their ninth set, Eye of the Storm. Their second for Fueled by Ramen, Storm continues the international expansion efforts they started on 2017's Ambitions. Though less rollicking, and lacking the punch and groove of that previous effort, Storm instead amplifies the urgency and scope -- as if the fate of the world was at stake. That sentiment may seem exaggerated, but after the seventh consecutive mega-anthem, one might suspect superhero capes are hiding beneath the quartet's stage clothes. Akin to contemporaneous releases by Thirty Seconds to Mars, All Time Low, Bring Me the Horizon, and 5 Seconds of Summer, this calculated move toward pop-polished sheen may shake fans of their early-2010s output, but the shift was already put in motion mid-decade with 35xxxv. Deliberate in its intent, Eye of the Storm is packed with gang choruses, crescendo drums, atmospheric production, and well-timed cathartic releases that elevate frontman Takahiro Moriuchi's expanded vocal range and inspiration-overdrive lyrics (which he's once again delivering in English). From the outset, the band sets the stage on the title track, with Taka singing "It's always darkest before the dawn/In the eye of the storm." It's a simple message -- one that is repeated over and over in varying iterations -- but the band takes their mission seriously. On and on it goes, as listeners are reminded to be confident ("Head High"), be defiant ("Push Back"), be themselves ("Stand Out Fit In"), and be fearless ("The Last Time"). Elsewhere, anthems such as "Grow Old Die Young" and "Wasted Nights" promote a live-for-now attitude that brims with optimism so thick that it's pointless to fight it. The latter track is part of a heroic mid-album stretch that also includes "Push Back" and "Change," a trio of standouts that form the LP's beating heart. While a brief lag in the heartswell disrupts the church-like atmosphere at the tail end, it provides a pensive break and builds back to previous heights with the Kiiara-assisted "In the Stars." Storm closes with the towering "Giants" and the urgent "Unforgettable," two additional highlights designed for singalongs and hands held high. In a world where pain and doubt swirl and churn, it's easy to give up and get blown away. With Eye of the Storm, One OK Rock delivers such a convincing message that, for a brief moment, life seems like it'll really be alright.

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