Having conquered their homeland, Japanese rockers ONE OK ROCK now look to follow the likes of BabyMetal, Coldrain and Crossfaith by aiming to repeat their success in the Western world. Their eighth album, ‘Ambitions’, sees them joining up with Fueled By Ramen (twenty one pilots, Paramore, Panic! At The Disco) with mixed yet bold results.
From the start, it proves to be a slickly produced rock record that thrives on anthemic hooks and driving guitars. ‘Bombs Away’ and ‘We Are’ emphasise this, with the latter making use of soaring vocals with a children’s choir adding another layer of grandiose.
It’s clear ONE OK ROCK have plenty of potential crossover potential. ‘Bedroom Warfare’ combines upbeat electronic drums with a fairly standard light radio rock chorus. ‘American Girls’ and ‘I Was King’ follow in a similar fashion, yet proves the quartet have a knack for writing subtle earworms. Notably ‘I Was King’ carries itself with simple rhyming word play.
Elsewhere, ‘One Way Ticket’ is a slice of insatiable, Bieber-esque pop that gives a break from the larger-than-life rock formula. ‘Jaded’ sees them roping in All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth for an ineffective guest spot. ‘Hard To Love’ swoons in its expected ballad-like fashion. While the closing pairing of ‘Start Again’ and ‘Take What You Want’ give the album a double dose of adrenaline, with the latter seeing 5 Seconds of Summer being brought in to make the “woah”’s soar even higher.
Although they’ve achieved what they set out to do on ‘Ambitions’, ONE OK ROCK finds themselves in a market of bands that sound all too similar. Throughout the album, there are hints of Thirty Seconds To Mars, Sleeping With Sirens, All Time Low and Bring Me The Horizon, implying OOR are a band who want immediate success. Nevertheless, if heard by the right crowds, ONE OK ROCK have the right formula that could soon make them a big deal around the world.
‘Ambitions’ by ONE OK ROCK is released on 13th January on Fueled By Ramen.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)