Written by: LF on 28/04/2015 16:03:58

As one of Japan's biggest rock bands, it might be a surprise that ONE OK ROCK aren't more widely known in our part of the world. In their home country, they are regular rock stars and not too long ago they took to touring in Europe and America as well. As one of the most American-sounding j-rock bands there is, they certainly have a good chance at breaking through in a Western market. On "35xxxv", their seventh studio album, Kellin Quinn (of Sleeping With Sirens) provides guest vocals on a song and it is the first album of theirs to be recorded mostly abroad. As they did on their previous record "JinseixBoku=", they have collaborated with producer John Feldmann and he is a good match for their already Americanized, electronic post-hardcore sound.

After a dramatic intro that will definitely have you scared away quickly if you're not a fan of electronics in your rock music, "Take Me To the Top" rolls in with one out of many catchy choruses that fill up this album. It is also one of the more wild-sounding songs on a very neatly structured album, featuring more screams and a faster tempo than many of the following songs. In general ONE OK ROCK's sound recalls bands like The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus or Linkin Park as they mix poppy melodies with hard rock instrumentals and occasional screams while wrapping it all in a huge sound where everything gets a certain air of grandeur. They are currently a foursome with Taka on vocals, Toru on guitar, Ryota on bass and Tomoya on drums and while synthesizers and other electronics play a big role in their music, the instruments are definitely not just for show. When you listen to their music, the most noticeable sign that they aren't your regular American version of this kind of band, is the way they seamlessly blend English and Japanese lyrics in their music but without it ever sounding weird, in part thanks to them being sung on overall extremely catchy melodies.

While they keep to a fair standard for most of the album, the most memorable song here is definitely the first single, "Mighty Long Fall". Like many of the other songs it's big, heavy, dramatic and extremely catchy but it's arguably also one of the smoothest songs here as it balances its poppy and heavy elements perfectly to a very atmospheric result. There is certainly diversity across the album, ranging from almost acoustic-sounding ballads like "Good Goodbye" or "Heartache" to aggressive and over-the-top electronically infused songs like "Paper Planes" or "One by One".

Some songs are more interesting than others, and some of the least catchy ones could possibly have been cut to make it a more focused album. When it's constantly present throughout a 45-minute album, the grandiose vibe can get pretty tiring and despite the high level of energy from the band that shines through in the production, the album never really picks up pace again after the corny ballad "Heartache" has slowed things down about midway. The songs that make up the latter half of the album generally feel like they're reusing the same formulas over and over again and this makes it a little tiring to listen through the entire thing. Still, there are some good moments on this album, and it is most definitely a good basis for the band's energetic live shows.

Download: Mighty Long Fall, Take Me To the Top, Cry Out, One by One
For The Fans Of: Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Three Days Grace, Sleeping With Sirens

Release date 11.02.2015

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