Music Reviews

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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Industrial Strength Records (@)
Distributor: More-Music.com
Rated: *****
Industrial Strength Records was the world's first Hardcore Techno label. Founded by New York native Lenny Dee in 1991, and he still heads the label. At its inception, Hardcore Techno was the fastest, most abrasive form of electronic dance music and ended up spawning a lot of hybrid genre offshoots. Often sounding like a stuttering synth & sample machine gun paired with a piledriver on meth, there is so much frenetic, manic energy in the music, it sometimes comes off as cartoonish, for surely no human being could keep up with this on the dance floor'¦but wait, not really true, because I've seen these ultra-rivetheads take over a dancefloor like a swarm of locusts when an adventurous DJ spun some of this stuff. Hardcore Techno, Gabber, and related styles are by far not my favorite genres of electronic music, but I'm game. What the hell, lay it on me!

The album is called 'Remixen' for a reason: most tracks are remixes. As to how the remixes might compare to the originals, I have no clue; I've never heard the originals. Unless you're a real genre purist though, it shouldn't much matter as these remixes certainly get the point across and probably add some spice to the tracks as well. As for tracks by the artists, Lenny Dee has 5 (one with DJ Gizmo), ISR has 3, English Muffin has 2, Tymon gets 2, Temper Tantrum 2, DJ Skinhead 2, and the rest (Marc Arcadipane, Stormtrooper, Wavelan, Disciples of Annihilation, Strychnine, UVC, Nasenbluten, Manga Corps, Satronica, Mindcandy, Jappo & Lancinhouse, Delta 9, FUHD, and Dirty Fingers Licked) have one each.

One of the hardest most brutal tracks on the album comes courtesy of DJ Skinhead - 'Extreme Terror' (Neophyte Mix). But if it's speedcore you're looking for check out the Akira Mix of DOA's 'Wanna Be a Gangster'. While Strychnine and UVC is really just Sal Mineo from DOA, Wavelan is Carl Carinci & Tony DiLorenzo, the other guys from DOA. A good part of the first CD is dominated by them as their boot-prints are all over the ISR Live tracks (mostly mash-ups), and if you don't like it, I guess that's too fucking bad. Regardless of the remixes, it still sounds rather old-school.

Lenny Dee charges right out of the gate on CD2 setting the pace with 'Forgotten Moments' (Ophidian Rx Re-edit) and things get more interesting at this point. You're still going to get bludgeoned, but there's a good deal more going on and some nice pacing in the process. Maybe it's just me, but I felt that the tracks on CD2 seemed a bit more creative and less old-school than the first one overall, with less speedcore elements. Not to say that some of the tracks didn't get tiresome quick; some certainly did, such as Lenny Dee's "Tranzformer" (Attic & Acesome Remix), but in Mr. Dee's defense, his other tracks on this CD were pretty cool. A lot of the hip-hop elements used in some of the tracks weren't exactly my cup of tea, especially evident on tracks like FUHD's 'Koncrete Jungle' (FUHD Re-edit), and Dirty Fingers Licked's "Sex Fiends" (Lenny Dee Mix) just sounds like a bad hardcore punk band.

Overall it will be a testimonial to your stamina if you can make it through both CDs in one sitting (I did, multiple times, and that has to count for something), but maybe a little at a time goes a long way. Some DJ's might find these tracks useful for shaking things up a bit, but like chile peppers in a spicy recipe, a little can go a long way. In case you're interested, the album is also available on vinyl (3 records) and digital download with bonus tracks. I can't say 'Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore' is the be-all and end-all of hardcore techno, but it is quite relentless, and has enough creativity (for this genre anyway) to keep things interesting in spite of some tedious moments.



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