What is Hardcore Techno?

JD Rinehart

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What is Hardcore Techno?

Hard Techno (most commonly known as hardcore) is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s out of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

Originally a subgenre of techno, hard techno, and Mainstream Hardcore evolved to become a distinct style characterized by its heavy use of drums and percussion, as well as its focus on creating a hard-hitting and intense listening experience.

Over the years, hard techno has undergone several changes and has been influenced by a variety of other genres, including industrial, hardcore, and acid.

Today, it continues to be a popular genre among hard dance music enthusiasts and is a staple at hardstyle and hardcore music festivals throughout Europe.

Hard Techno has grown in popularity because, like many techno and hard dance music genres, it energizes people to dance, jump around, and socialize with other ravers and clubgoers.

Read on and learn more about this amazing genre.

What Defines Hardcore Techno?

Hardcore Techno

Hardcore techno is a style of electronic dance music created by the fusion of hardcore and techno and it is characterized by its fast tempo (typically around 160-180 beats per minute), heavy use of breakbeats and samples, aggressive kick drums, and distorted vocals.

In addition, the style is often associated with rave and hardcore scenes and is known for its high-energy, intense sound.

The Origins of Hard Techno

Discopussy Nightclub and Bar inspired by the Detroit Techno Scene

While the modern sound of hardcore or hard techno sounds is remarkably different than techno genres today, hard techno shares its roots with other EDM genres that emerged in Detroit, Michigan in the 1980s.

As techno began to gain popularity in Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the fusion of hard dance music and techno gave rise to a new subgenre known as hard techno.

History of Hard Techno and Its Impact on Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

Hard techno and hardcore music have evolved over the years, but it was the release of the 1990’s track “We Have Arrived” by the German producer Mescalinum United that really helped catapult the genre to notoriety and popularize the genre.

Mescalinum United – We Have Arrived

The release of this track served as a catalyzing event in the early 90s and accelerated the genre as a distinctive music genre.

From here, hardcore and hard techno proliferated in popularity throughout the 90s in European countries such as Belgium, The Netherlands, the UK, and Germany.

Then in the early 2000s, hard techno would undergo its next evolution under the influence of Hardstyle, hard dance music, and industrial hardcore giving birth to what we now refer to as Mainstream Hardcore.

Furthermore, DJs such as DJ Promo and his record label The Third Movement helped to popularize this genre by pioneering its modern sound which featured slower tempos but retained an edgy sophistication.

Throughout the 2000s it quickly gained traction in Europe with powerhouses like Endymion, Kasparov, Art of Fighters, and many more leading the charge in pushing the genre to new heights and capturing new listeners along the way.

In conjunction, with Mainstream Hardcore, Happy Hardcore grew alongside it and continues to spread tangentially, and together they have grown into genres such as Eurobeat UK Hardcore Freeform Hardcore & Full-on Hardcore!

Impact on Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

Marked by thumping 4/4 kick drums and synths that can sound equally nostalgic and futuristic hard techno’s sound continues to power the EDM scene.

This is abundantly clear from Mainstream Hardcore and Hard Techno’s presence at most major EDM festivals, its influence on recent Techno sets by Amelie Lens and Charlotte De Witte, as well as a recognizable influence on new techno tracks being produced.

For example, veteran hard techno artists such as Chris Liebing continue to pump out club bangers with harder kicks and fast tempos reaching 150 BPM which shows the lasting synergy between Mainstream Hardcore and modern-day Hard Techno.

Characteristics of Hardcore Techno Music

Producing hard techno requires many of the same pieces of music production equipment and instruments as other EDM genres including a keyboard, synthesizer, drum machine, sequencers, and samples.

Some of the characteristic features of hard techno music include the following:

  • Different ranges of distorted sounds
  • Aggressive kick drums 
  • Violent basslines 
  • Faster BPM and synthesized bass 
  • Less melodic atmosphere 

Hard Techno Subgenres: 

Several subgenres of techno and hard techno have been forged from Hard Techno including Gabber (early hardcore or known as mainstream hardcore), industrial hardcore, breakcore, speedcore, and Frenchcore.

Each subgenre split off from Hard Techno based on the unique characteristics of each subgenre and then were popularized in various regions throughout the years.

We have listed and described some of the popular subgenres and their characteristics below:

Early Hard Techno:

It was popular in western Europe and characterized by 

  • Heavy drums
  • Kicks
  • Distortions with BMP up to 190

Mainstream Hard Techno:

This subgenre of hard techno features:

  • More complex sounds of gabber
  • Ranges from 150 to 165 bpm  

Speedcore Techno:

The features of this subgenre of hard techno include:

  • Very fast tempos (even 300 to 500)
  • More aggressive themes 
  • Heavier distortions 

Happy Hardcore Techno:

It features samples of songs that were accelerated and feature:

  • Coupled with female or male vocals 
  • Coupled with Piano riffs 
  • 165 to 180 bpm

Where is Hard Techno popular?

Despite being born in Detroit, hard techno music was mostly produced in Europe and uniquely popularized in Europe.

More specifically, Hard Techno and Mainstream Hardcore are incredibly popular and continue to be the dominant genres popular in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

Hard Techno vs. Mainstream Hardcore

Because Hard Techno and Mainstream Hardcore have evolved over the years into their own distinctly unique subgenres we have included a list of the best Hard Techno and Mainstream Hardcore playlists to listen to in 2023 so that you can hear the difference yourself.

The Best Hard Techno 2023

If you’re a house and techno head that has come to enjoy the sounds of Charlotte De Witte, Amelie Lens, and Chris Libieng then you’ll most likely enjoy Modern Hard Techno more than the abrasive sounds of Mainstream Hardcore.

When we talk about the top spot in the Alternative Top 100 DJ polls, for two years running, Charlotte De Witte is the currently World’s No. 1 DJ in DJ Mag’s 100 DJs 2022.

The Best Mainstream Hardcore

In contrast, if you’re a hard dance music enthusiast that lives on the energy and abrasive sounds and kicks from artists such as Angergfist then you will likely enjoy Mainstream Hardcore.

Why Do People Like Hard Techno Music?

People have a craze for Hard Techno music because it fills the listener with unbridled raw energy and brings out their best dance moves.

Whether it’s original Hard Techno from the 90s and 2000s or modern-day subgenres such as Mainstream Hardcore and Hard Techno this music genre proves to be playfully fun, dark, aggressive, and relentless with its menacing sounds, gritty kicks, and fast BPM.

Final thoughts 

Many artists and producers continue to push the boundaries of the genre and experiment with new sounds and techniques.

This has led to the emergence of new subgenres, such as industrial techno and acid techno.

In closing, Hard techno is a genre of electronic dance music that has undergone several changes and has been influenced by a variety of other genres over the years.

Today, it continues to be a popular genre among techno enthusiasts and is a staple at techno festivals and clubs around the world.

With its origins rooted in Detroit techno and its evolution incorporating elements from industrial, hardcore, and acid, hard techno stands as a diverse and ever-evolving genre of electronic music.

Hard Techno music is currently one of our favorite genres of electronic dance music and we hope you enjoy your journey into this captivating genre.