Masters of Hardcore
The masked warrior of hardcore is back with the release of the title track from his latest album, 'Diabolic Dice'. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know exactly who this man is and exactly what to expect from his productions. Hard, aggressive, fast beats! The production is impeccable as always, with attention to detail that I can always appreciate — such as his love for drum & bass, present in the powerfully processed off-beat snare. It’s not the fastest track on the album, but it’s certainly not one for your warm up playlists, clocking in at 180BPM, with gangsta rap influenced vocals and stomping distorted kick drums. The main break serves up a sinister melody, cranking up the energy before it tears down the speakers again.
Spyro & Hartshorn
'Bass Keeps Pumping'
Keeping The Rave Alive
This is a simple yet awesome dancefloor track from two rising artists in the happy hardcore scene. The hook is a repetitive, looping vocal that rolls throughout the break and builds, before a super powerful kick and bass is introduced underneath. Finally the vocal relents in the second break, to give way to an old skool sampled stab riff. This then builds again and drops with the kick and bass, switching back to the vocal for the outro section. This track is one of the best examples of how clean production and not overcomplicating things can make some of the most effective dance music.
I’ve said in previous reviews that Crude Intentions may have been the most overlooked producer in the hard scene in recent years, but this latest EP, released on the high profile label of LNY TNZ, could well be his coming out party. My pick of the two tracks is 'Fading', a bouncy triple affair with a delicate vocal that features in the first breakdown, before dropping to a low key techy kick to give that dark energy without being overly aggressive. The main break revisits the vocal, with the addition of a euphoric melody that still holds a hint of melancholy, complementing it perfectly. This then drops with a pitched hardstyle kick before returning to the mid intro section for the outro.
Kronos exploded onto the scene years ago as one of the hottest prospects in hardstyle, and since then has been working tirelessly to achieve this status. Twenty-nineteen was a great year for him, with notable solo releases and collabs with high profile artists under his belt, but for me 'Restart' has taken things to the next level. The energy mid intro is a distinct nod to the hardstyle kicks of the early 2000s, with gated reverb. The main break offers up a powerful melody, which builds and drops to a pitched kick accompanied by aggressive, screechy synth work. The production is impeccably clean here, I love it.
Sub Sonik & Galactixx
'Runaway' is an emotional hardstyle track with a beautiful vocal in the breakdown. This builds to a powerful hands-in-the-air melody, before deconstructing and building again to the climax drop. A very anthemic hardstyle hit with a crisp, raw bite that never gets overly aggressive.
Shimamura is one of the legendary names to come out of the hard dance scene in Japan, regarded as a pioneer of the J-core sound. In the West, he is more known for his traditional UK hardcore style productions, but this latest offering, to be released on 10” vinyl, brings something different to the party with early rave sounds. So 100 per cent breakbeats, pitched rap samples, M1 house pianos and a plethora of sampled stabs make this a fun trip down memory lane, with fresh production and originality.
'We Like To Party (Hard Driver Extended Remix)'
The original version of this was one of my favourite tunes when it was released. Despite not being a hard dance track, the melody and energy of it reminded me of everything I love about Showtek’s harder material from yesteryear. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered revered Dutch hardstyler Hard Driver had been drafted in for the update. Obviously the tempo has increased, with slight processing adjustments to the rap vocals, but the heart of the song stays pure to the original, with the addition of Hard Driver's powerful trademark kicks.