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Hardcore Techno

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Hardcore Techno, also referred to as "Hard Dance", is an umbrella term used to describe the Darker and Edgier variants of Techno, although some people argue that it has evolved into a separate, less specific genre of its own. It is mostly distinguishable from its parent genre by a faster tempo, very powerful bass, and a preference for abrasive samples and beats. The genre was inspired by the sinister and slow New Beat that was made in Belgium by Praga Khan and others. The genre originated from Western European countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy and the UK, but it also spawned a small but extremely fierce scene in Japan. Hardcore techno had its heyday in the mid to late nineties when the more commercial lighter and softer Happy Hardcore sound spread to popularity.

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Like with many other genres of Electronic Music, there's many different kinds of subgenres and artists (with numerous aliases).


Subgenres:

  • Old school gabber
    • This genre is credited as the one that gave birth to the hardcore techno genre, and subsequent styles of hard dance music draw inspiration from it. It is believed to have originated in Detroit (the birthplace of techno music in general) from acid house and tech house, but it rooted itself in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where it became popular on account of being perceived as an affront to the Amsterdam scene which was perceived to be snobby and pretentious. As a result, its sound used to be a pretty simple and straightforward, with the sole goal of making you go crazy without even having to take any drugs. The "gabber" moniker is believed to have originated from an interview with Amsterdam DJ K.C. the Funkaholic, where he was asked how did he felt about the Rotterdam scene; his answer was "Oh, they're just a bunch of gabbers having fun" ("gabber" being an Amsterdam slang word that can be more or less translated as "dude" or "mate"). Eventually, its harder sound and its simplicity ended up dominating the early Dutch techno scene, and by 1995 it started mutating into its mainstream, commercialized variant known as "happy hardcore". Example: Bertocucci Feranzano - XTC Love.

  • Nu-style gabber (aka Mainstream hardcore)
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    • After the rise, dominance and fall of early gabber in the late 90s to hardstyle and trance techno, the gabber scene returned to the underground, where it basically tried to distance itself as hard as possible from the old days of happy hardcore and gained a more distorted, pounding bass drum driven rhythm, more elaborate productions, often samples from American rap and hip-hop, and actually comprehensible lyrics usually about drugs, fights, violence, police scuffles, and many swearwords. The most recent Dutch productions as of 2016 start to show influence from the more melodic Japanese style, which gained a die-hard following on the internet since around 2010. Western techno fans simply call it "hardcore" — the "gabber" moniker is nowadays more common among fans of Japanese techno. Example: DJ Paul Elstak - One day we kill em all (nu-style) NeLIME - Codename: Zero (nu-style but with old-style Indecipherable Lyrics)

  • Speedcore
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    • Hardcore on steroids. Speed is the main emphasis for this subgenre, with a tempo going 300 BPM at the lower end, and even as high as 1000 BPM. The bass drum can become so fast that it becomes a tone, and unless it's Japanese there are typically very few melodic or even musical elements. Example: Moby - 1000.

  • Crossbreed

  • Frenchcore

  • Happy Hardcore
    • The Lighter and Softer form. Still very fast, but the bass drum is less pounding, the music is notably more "happy" sounding (achieved through the use of major keys), occasional use of piano, and high pitched vocals that frequently sound like they have been inhaling helium, with lyrics about subjects such as love, partying or the love of partying. Example: Blümchen - Boomerang.

  • Mákina

  • Freeform/UK Hardcore
    • Evolved from Happy Hardcore. It is a bit less childish and sappy, uses supersaw synths more, and often features heavier basslines. UK hardcore artists often make many remixes of pop songs. Nightcore, a great majority of j-core and modern happy hardcore are derivatives of this style.

  • Darkcore/Terrorcore
    • Darker and Edgier hardcore, basically. Faster (200+ BPM), more low pitched sounds, and less melody.

  • Noisecore/Industrial Hardcore
    • Hardcore fused with noise music. Bass drum driven rhythm is still there, but there are few melodic elements, and harsh samples are frequent.

  • Digital Hardcore

  • Hardstyle
    • Like gabber, but slower, happier and more upbeat, with a cleaner and more "booming" sound. Usually begins with a rhythmic part, then a melodic part, then ends with another rhythmic part. Really loves the "hoover" sound; the lyrics are usually about drugs, party culture, sex, energy, dancing, or energetic dancing. Has many variants as well, such as euphoric (generally Lighter and Softer than regular hardstyle), rawstyle (uses more abrasive sounds), jumpstyle (slower and with a "bouncy" sound) and dubstyle (fuses elements of dubstep). Showtek - Freak!

  • Subground
    • Similar to hardstyle and gabber, but slower (around 140 BPM), with a greater focus on minimalism and sub-bass frequencies. Few melodic elements are present, and the kicks are less harsh overall. Often draws elements from minimal techno and hard trance.

  • Breakcore
    • Hardcore that changes beat every 2-4 seconds and every now and then introduces random beats, giving the sense of a jumbled yet coherent chaos. Usually takes rhythms from other genres, especially drum and bass. Example: BOB the Builder - Words

  • Schranz
    • Hardcore with a very great emphasis on rhythm, usually with a very powerful, fast and rolling beat with scratchy, heavily distorted loops and precise drum fills in between song movements. Melodies are brief and repetitive, often consisting of mininalistic stabs (akin to big room house) or short but fast synth runs. Primarily German. Example: this live session from Fernanda Martins.

  • J-core

  • Touhou j-core

  • Hardbass
    • A Russian breed of hardcore techno that appeared in the late 90's, drawing inspiration from hardstyle, UK hardcore and tech trance. It has a highly characteristic bass tone that is used as part of the melody, and often features rapping lyrics. The best known act is XS Project. It has been appropriated as part of the recently developed Eastern European gopnik subculture.

  • Funkot
    • A primarily Indonesian style of hardcore techno that emerged in the 2000s. Funkot is characterized by very high tempos (usually 180-220 BPM), its triplet bass kick pattern, use of cowbell, and heavy usage of the Amen Break. Sampling is very frequent, with vocal slices taken from anime, Western rap songs, or early hardcore tracks.


Notable Artists



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