Angerfist's 2015 hardcore album, Raise and RevoltEXPAND
Angerfist's 2015 hardcore album, Raise and Revolt
Cloud 9 Dance/Masters Of Hardcore

10 Hardcore Techno Tracks for People Who Don’t Know Shit About Hardcore

“Hardcore” was the first rave subgenre. An investigation of early-’90s rave culture would reveal its participants’ insistence on using the word “hardcore” to describe themselves and their music. “Strictly for the hardcore,” “Hardcore you know the score!” and “Hardcore will never die!” screamed off vinyl records and glossy flyers sporting crude 3-D graphics, Xeroxed on the sly by a friend at Kinko's.

The early-’90s rave scene considered itself hardcore because it was DIY and also a fusion of musical styles and cultures. Once those sounds came together, it sounded new and it sounded hard. A rift formed in the early rave culture: those content with the older sounds of house and techno, and the new, hybridized mutation that was being called “hardcore.” This rift was famously, belatedly, vocalized in 1994 on The Leathernecks' test attack: kotz 0 EP, “Peace, love, unity, and everything in between is just … hardcore.”

Hardcore is the progenitor of more EDM and rave subgenres than any other. Almost from the moment the term was coined, it split into virulent subgenres: hardcore breakbeat in the U.K. and hardcore techno everywhere else. From them sprang jungle, gabber, trance, happy hardcore, hard acid, drum ’n’ bass, speedcore, breakcore, morph beats, broken beat, hardstyle, rawstyle … the list goes on.

Hardcore techno is rave’s heaviest hitter. It’s usually (but not always) industrial, noisy, fast and ultimately cathartic. I have ranked 10 hardcore techno tracks in order of impact. We’ll start in Southern California in deference to the area's importance to hardcore techno’s development and promotion, and then journey forth to crown the world’s hardest historical MF.

10. AK-Industry & Igneon System — "Evil Blood" (Fiend & Delta 9 Remix) (2012)
Our first stop is a synergistic nexus point of all that is hardcore techno. Southern California hardcore demon, Darkmatter Soundsystem stalwart and famed international remixer Fiend stained his arms to the shoulders with Chicago hellhound Delta 9 on their rampaging remix of “Evil Blood.” In doing so, they fused industrial techno and drum ’n’ bass into a black monolith of hardcore perfection to be gaped at by lesser, violent, warring monkeys.

9. Deadly Buda — "Esto Es Los Angeles" (1998)
OK, it may seem a little self-serving to put one of your own productions in a top-10 list. But "Esto Es Los Angeles" has the distinction of being the first L.A.-themed hardcore techno anthem. Costa Mesa’s Atomic Hardcore Records released the track on picture disc in 1998 when hardcore techno was pounding L.A. raves with manic intensity. Southern California legend Ron D. Core would blast "Esto Es Los Angeles" pitched to the maximum as break dancers, slam dancers and speaker humpers raved toward the 21st century.

8. DJ Mad Dog — "Not My Tempo" (2015)
Los Angeles hardcore fans have always embraced their outlying soul brethren. Our newest adopted son, Rome’s DJ Mad Dog, paved his way to the City of Angel’s heart with what might be the masterpiece of modern 20-teens hardcore techno. Perfect kick drums, innovative tempo changes, beefed-up rave synths and smart samples from the movie Whiplash ask, “Are you a rusher or are you a dragger?” After you try to dance to this one, you’ll have your answer.


7. Tommyknocker feat. The Wishmaster — "Supernatural" (2012)
Hardcore techno doesn’t always sound like 22nd-century heavy metal. A significant portion of the genre features poppy hooks and choruses. Nobody does that better than Tommyknocker, and perhaps nobody has ever done it better than Tommyknocker and Wishmaster when they collaborated on this “supernatural” masterpiece of sample and drive.

6. Spiral Tribe — "Breach the Peace" (1993)
What if I told you the modern EDM festival era was started by dirty hippies blasting hardcore techno from an army truck in 1992? Spiral Tribe fused the English hippie-traveler scene (sometimes called “crusties”) with the rave scene. They threw a series of free, outdoor parties over the course of 1992, which culminated in about 50,000 people partying and squatting for a week on a stretch of rural public land called Castlemorton Common. In the wake of Castlemorton, the U.K. passed the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which gave authorities greater power to clamp down on spontaneous gatherings and helped usher in the age of the corporate rave. About a decade later, a U.S. piece of legislation called the Anti-Drug Proliferation Act — sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden — had a similarly chilling effect on American rave culture.

But Spiral Tribe’s story didn’t end after the Criminal Justice Act. They fled to France and began throwing free festivals, called “teknivals,” across mainland Europe to much the same effect. They remain active today as SP23, a "creative conspiracy of musicians, DJs and artists."

5. Angerfist and Radical Redemption — "Repercussion" (2015)
You don’t know shit about hardcore techno these days if you don’t know Angerfist. He (or it) is the biggest name in the game right now, known for devastating, knock-the-paint-off-the-wall kick drums. It’s hard to pick any one Angerfist track as “the best” so I will pick one with far-reaching implications: Angerfist’s collaboration with the biggest name in rawstyle, Radical Redemption. It’s like adding habanero to your jalapeño, or jalapeño to your habanero. Whatever, it’s freaking hot.

4. Euromasters — "Alles Naar de Klote" (1992)
Once upon a time, Roland Corporation created the TR-909 drum machine. Sometime thereafter, people began putting distortion pedals onto the end of its signal chain. The cult of the distorted kick drum, worshipped in modern hardstyle and its predecessor, gabber, began when "Alles Naar de Klote" made its way into ravers’ hands worldwide. Sporting a cover depicting severed male genitalia riding a farm tractor through the snow-filled Dutch countryside, its look was as over-the-top as its sound.

Many would say that modern hardstyle and gabber really started with the release of Rotterdam Termination Source’s “Poing,” and they're not wrong. "Poing" galvanized a Dutch dance industry that flourishes to this day, but it did not have the same insane focus on the distorted kick drum as did "Alles Naar de Klote." So in terms of direct influence on the sounds that followed, I’ll give the hardcore techno nod to Euromasters.

3. TronikHouse — "Up Tempo" (1991)
TronikHouse was an alias of Detroit techno legend Kevin Saunderson. It was one of the first rave records claiming to be “hardcore techno,” and may be one of the best. Rumored to have been made in an hour, it featured all the classic elements of both hardcore techno and breakbeat that made rave speakers roar: a killer synth line, an Amen break and a "Mentasm" stab (explained next). "Up Tempo" was enormous back in the day, but strangely, I rarely see it mentioned in mainstream accounts of rave history.

2. Human Resource — "Dominator" (Joey Beltram Remix) (1991)
When Belgium’s R&S Records had American Joey Beltram remix Human Resource’s "Dominator," little did they realize they were about to sum up all rave history with one perfect sound. The “Dominator” sound is a synth stab that originally emanated from a Roland Alpha Juno synthesizer. It's sometimes called a “hoover” by disrespectful, blasphemous heathens who have the gall to contend that the sound resembles the whoosh of a vacuum cleaner. Others feel it is correct to call it the “Mentasm" sound because Joey Beltram’s earlier, unperfected version of it first appeared on his track of that name. But it was when Beltram and Human Resource combined their forces that the Dominator sound would infuse hardcore around the world and go on to appear in every EDM subgenre now and forever. Amen.

1. Mescalinum United — "We Have Arrived" (1991)
Experts generally agree that “We Have Arrived” marks the birth of the hardcore techno era. Mescalinum United was one of many artistic aliases associated with Germany’s Planet Core Productions. Marc Acardipane was PCP's primary music producer, and he layered waves of distortion onto a wall of sound that stands the test of time.

Lenny Dee, founder of Industrial Strength Records, whom many consider the world’s first hardcore techno DJ, had this to say in an interview with The Hard Data earlier this year about the track that his label released to the world: “I had been working with Caspar Pound [of Rising High Records], and we were starting to explore how to make the sound that resulted when I was mixing. But Marc Acardipane had already made it. He put the distortion, the heaviness and the stuff that you only really hear in the club when you drive all the tracks together.”

The relationship between Industrial Strength Records and Planet Core Productions gave birth to a dizzying amount of classic hardcore techno on both sides of the Atlantic, and spawned the dawn of a new rave era.

Joel Bevacqua aka DJ Deadly Buda is an American graffiti artist and rave pioneer. He publishes the dance music magazine The Hard Data and can be found on SoundCloud.

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