Under the Influence(UTI)-Dragon Blood album review by Mark J. FFO: killer, classic hardcore with all the riffs, hooks and breakdowns you need.


Under the Influence(UTI)-Dragon Blood album review by Mark J. FFO: killer, classic hardcore with all the riffs, hooks and breakdowns you need.

UTI is a hardcore/punk institution that it is hard to believe has been kicking for 25 years, that's wild. But the band is a brilliant case study of a heavy band progressing with each release, keeping at it and surpassing all expectations.
Here's their bio:

Under The Influence (UTI) was conceived at a Dapto high school in 1998, inspired by Dead Kennedys/Circle Jerks/AFI style street punk.

25 years later with hundreds of gigs, a bunch of EPs and 4 full-length albums under their belt, UTI have really honed their sound progressing to a heavy crossover of Punk, Hardcore and Metal.

UTI has toured up and down the east coast of Australia playing gigs with international and Australian acts including Anti-Nowhere League, Bodyjar, Booze & Glory, Clowns, Frenzal Rhomb, Morning Glory, Strung Out, Strike Anywhere, Toe To Toe, The Bennies, The Neptune Power Federation, playing Yours and Owls Festival and much more.

With Kino on vocals, Curci on guitar, Lochy on bass and Dan smashing the tubs, this album is going to take their sound to the next level, and with a tight electrifying live show, UTI are a band not to be missed.

And for a band that has many releases and gigged heaps, they don't have a bad release-even their demo is of high quality. But this album really lifts them into the top-weight class, as most of their albums haven't been as scorching as they are live.

The style is still classic hardcore, with that nasty punk edge whilst adding that 90's metallic influence, and also evidently sharper songwriting. Dragon Blood is not generic, it's an energetic beast and one of the best hardcore albums from Australia in a long time. The production is in your face, super assertive and very drums/vocals forward as the greats have always done. This album will surprise you and is an instant classic. How sick is the album cover art, love the 80's metal feel to it.

No Salvation tears you a new arsehole with its gnarly face ripping pace and a taste of the new improved UTI flavour. The riffs are thick and acidic, tempo always threatens to go out of control. Yes, it's that type of album and expect no rest from this rager. 

Translucent Scream was the first single/video off this album and you instantly know why-maddened hardcore with complete anger and psychosis. This also showcases the backing vocals from the drummer, across the album this adds a robust antagonistic layer to those tracks. Project Dead is even better, with a tone that is deeper and a loosier tempo, and the fact Kin does so much more than scream his head off. The melodic touch and cleaner vocals work so perfectly, but this is still as heavy as hell and the lyrics are awesome on this as well. Rot in Hell and Feel the Pressure are spiteful and quick raging thrashers that come and go with assertive vigour. Another recent single pre-release was the wild Satan Killer, which has a killer video and guarantees a violent moshpit. This indicated pre-release; the sharp quality of this new release and the discussed new changes/heaviness with this album.

Now I will chat about my absolute faves from this album, and this is not saying any tracks are piss weak or filler, no chance as this is a flawless album. But every album especially hardcore ones, needs memorable anthems that are nuclear weapons. Wheel of Misfortune is a vintage hardcore epic, with so much quality crammed into one huge song. I love how this track and most of their songs are a mix of 90's Melodic Aussie hardcore like One Inch Punch, more recent legends like Staunch from Newcastle and throwbacks to Toe to Toe, Drawback etc. This song shines from brilliant song structure, many tempo changes and the incredible skill of each band member. They have quite a few enraged songs that start off with a tried and true, lower, semi-whispered vocal and this pops into a loud battle of venom, aggression and punchy guitar work that is very solid.

Wonderful examples of this masterful style are the stellar Welcome Darkness (loved the dual vocals in the middle and the deep reflection/insight in the well-crafted lyrics), Senseless Killing Machine with its irate and super focused riffs and mind-blowing vocal variation-killer stuff and Envenomation mixes a sensational modern style like Melbourne's Fever Shack in that it sells hard the buzzkill of wild riffs and an almost powerviolence worship like Endless Bore or new jacks Persecutor. Blank Eyes is a damn solid exercise in how to mix excessive violent vocals with super rhymic guitar wizardry.

Rotting Out is a smashing banger with many clever twists and turns, including a stomping ending begging for your best two-step or headbanging. But I could easily contradict myself as the more I listen this writer changes his fave tracks because this album is so fucking great; on every level. What a sick problem to have and rare as hell.

The two album closers are huge and really illustrate how exceptionally solid the band and this release is. Broken jumps back to the earlier comparison to one of my favourite recent hardcore bands the mighty Staunch from Newcastle. This band were so solid by not writing generic hardcore, but rather by creating deep tension and mood in their tracks, whilst being as crushing as hell. Amazing things like subtle and super timely pauses in a song make all the difference and this track fatigues you with its mesmerizing guile and maliciousness. 

The closing track Time is Running Out is the best track on the release without any doubt, the song drips in hectic but heavy melodic hardcore in an almost DC hardcore straight edge manner, which I loved. It also mixes the anthemic glory of Aussie HC stalwarts 50 Lions and other legends in that Trial and Error compilation glory era. What a wild track to end the album on. 25 years and these legends just released the best release of their career, more please sir.

Buy this classic now, the band have some awesome merch bundles as well.

Out now: