Album Review: ONE OK ROCK ‘Ambitions’

 M. Thewlis

      If you want an album that defines musical development, this is it. ‘Ambitions’ is the latest album released by Japanese alt-rock band ONE OK ROCK, on Fueled By Ramen. The band is comprised of Takahiro Moriuchi (vocals), Toru Yamashita (guitar/leader), Ryota Kohama (bass), and Tomoya Kanki (drums). The band has been together since 2005, and has slowly gained world wide fame, performing on VANS Warped Tour as well as working alongside such names as Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens), Alex Gaskarth (All Time Low), and 5 Seconds of Summer.

      The Japanese version of Ambitions was released on January 11th of this year, whereas the international version was released on January 13th. The two albums have very minor differences between them, with the Japanese version having very minimal Japanese lyrics in it and having a majority of English lyrics. If you’re a long-time fan of the band, you’ll know their previous albums consisted of large portions of Japanese, so to hear Taka sing so much English shows the hard work and dedication he put into not only the album but the band, in an attempt to broaden the band’s fanbase. But enough of that, let’s get into the actual album!

      ‘Ambitions’ opens up with the song Ambitions (Introduction), a short instrumental piece that sets the perfect mood for the next song in the playlist, Bombs Away. Bombs Away begins slow, haunting, and somber, but when Taka begins to work hid powerful vocal talents, it turns into a flagship song. As it reaches the chorus, the sound and instrumentals explode like a bomb of pure energy, and I can’t think of a more appropriate title for the song. It’s a song that leaves its mark, that pushes its way into the face of the crowd and says We’re here, we’re ready to fight our way to the top. The following track, Taking Off, also means business. It’s a song that starts off powerful, stays powerful, and end powerful. The first two tracks on this album make you want to pay attention to the band, and let me guarantee that you wont be disappointed.

      The song Jaded (featuring Alex Gaskarth), starts with a mellow acoustic tune, before morphing into this loud and upbeat sound that would make anyone want to jump up and rock out. It’s very easy to hear Gaskarth’s influence, but ONE OK ROCK manages to pull this sound off without seeming like a direct copy of it’s influencer, instead moulding the style that the All Time Low frontman brings with the style of the Japanese band. Jaded really is an anthem of empowerment, injecting a sense of hopefulness into those who have lost it. The album presents so many different sounds, meaning there’s something there for everyone. From the catchy, rhythm filled Bedroom Warfare, to the bubbly, pop rock-esque American Girls, to the heartfelt acoustic number Hard To Love.

      Ambition is defined as a strong desire to do something, something that requires hard work and dedication, and this album has shown us that ONE OK ROCK has a whole lot of it. The band has had ambition at the very heart of it since the beginning, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to lose it anytime soon. ONE OK ROCK knows what they want to do, and with a major record label behind them, they’re in the process of getting to the point that they’re striving for. Hard enough as it is to break into the music industry of your home, much less a foreign country, ONE OK ROCK has shown us that they’re capable of gaining the spotlight.

‘Ambitions’ is just a taste of what the Japanese alt-rock group has to offer, and ONE OK ROCK has stepped onto the playing field with a presence that no one can ignore.

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