No Guts, No Glory (Defqon.1 Anthem 2015)
It’s always prestigious to be given the honour of writing the anthem for a festival in Europe, and the responsibility comes no greater than the World Cup of the harder styles, Defqon 1. With this responsibility comes great pressure, and Ran-D clearly didn’t take this lightly, producing this epic eight-minute masterpiece. The track features an iconic movie voiceover-style vocal, in-line with previous years' anthems, and takes you on a journey from the ruff and raw intro to a cinematic main break, anthemic melody, and even a climactic tempo rise at the back end of the track! This track needed to epic on the grandest scale and yet again Ran-D does not fail to deliver.
'A Broken Story'
Superb melodic hardstyle release here from Dutch rising duo Audiotricz, who are taking over in 2015. And with releases like this they deserve all of the support they are receiving. This track features huge uplifting melodies, euphoric drops and an epic feeling throughout, like this is one of those tracks that is going to stick around for a while in DJs' sets, especially at festivals this summer, and the fact it doesn't even need a vocal to carry it proves a big point!
Zatox & Audiofreq
'Back To the Underground'
What an interesting collaboration we have here between the pioneer of the rawstyle sound Zatox, and one of the most forward-thinking producers in the hardstyle scene in Audiofreq. As the name suggests, the concept of the track is to take things back to how they used to be, cleverly wrapping old skool hardcore stabs, classic trance voice-synths and breakbeats, in a cutting-edge package of rough kicks and basslines.
Zany’s latest release shows a completely different side than we are used to hearing from him, as he was one of the original leaders of the raw revolution which has become so extreme it’s led several acts to 180 turn and head for a new fresher sound. This track heads down a freestyle direction with almost jump-influenced kicks and euphoric melodies, featuring a familiar vocal loop and cowbells on the drops, adding lots of power and a cool, subtle, shuffle-percussive groove. Tracks like this show why Zany was one of the original pioneers of hardstyle over a decade ago, and how he has stayed so relevant today.
Tatanka is not the most regular producer in the hardstyle scene. To me this works in his favour as every time he does release a track, it is an event that captures your attention. His sporadic release schedule results in every track having a well-thought-out concept produced to the highest standard in the scene. Here Tatanka reinterprets several classic themes including TV-style documentary reports about where your kids are at 5am, and vocal sample and synth work reminiscent of early '90s rave music, but adding original melodies and raw-edged kicks to keep it fresh.
'Embrace the Ultimate'
This Italian hardcore supremo brings something exciting to every production. Never resting on the success of his last release, he is always pushing for the next big sounds. Here Amnesys pushes the tempo harder than we have been used to in the past, but with a clean crunchy kick — the ‘techy sound’ as people are referring to it as. The track has a really powerful, cinematic breakdown and melodic elements to prevent it sounding too hostile. But the emphasis in the track is power and energy. Another hit!
With hardstyle sweeping the world now and exploring new territories including Latin America, it's great to see new talent rising from these areas. Argentinian DJ Noiseshock is one of these acts to rise from Latin America and has been delivering some consistently solid releases on Scantraxx’s Silver label with this high energy, catchy melodic hardstyle release ticking all the right boxes.
Dougal & Gammer
'Never Stop '
This duo have been writing some of the biggest hits in the UK hardcore scene for over a decade now, so it’s always exciting to see a new track land. 'Never Stop' is a bouncy dancefloor stomper taking influence from the wider spectrum of EDM whilst remaining faithful to the hardcore sound. The melody in the break is a super euphoric, ‘hands up’ affair which builds in layers to the climax before releasing to a kick, bass and counter melody reminiscent of the house formula of recent years, and works to great effect! Without a doubt a summer anthem in the scene.
'Raving Drug '
Mark Breeze is back again, riding the thin line between trap and UK hardcore. Thin though this line may be, it is becoming more and more relevant, with other hardcore producers taking influence from the 808-led movement, and excitingly, more mainstream EDM acts looking to the UK hardcore scene for the crazy tear-out end-of-set moment. Subtle kick and bass sections keep this underground and credible, with a catchy melody that works just as well on top of a trap beat as it does hardcore. A cool and creative track that also works a treat on the dancefloor.
Dark techno-influenced release here from ACTI, stripping the intro right down, reminding me of the early BXR releases, with simple percussion-heavy sub and vocal loops, building up to the break with the introduction of a heavy electro bassline before a violin-led breakdown builds up with a dark chord progression, dropping with serious power. This is next level Subground taking on a hard trance influence reminiscent of Kamui’s productions and really stepping up the game for 2015.