After a nearly three year hiatus, Rave Radio Records' Calling The Hardcore series is back with it's third instalment. 'Calling the Hardcore - Volume 3' is a triple disc album featuring twelve exclusive hardcore / jungle techno tracks including Hyper-on Experience, Jack Smooth, Secret Squirrel, Industries Of The Blend, Z-NEO, DJ Jedi, Worldwide Epidemic, Nicky Allen, Keezee, Blackmass Plastic, DUG and Try Unity.
With a number of different bundles available this is guaranteed to sell out so be sure to place your pre-order pretty sharpish. 'Calling the Hardcore - Volume 3' is released on the 10th of April and features original artwork by none other than Junior Tomlin himself.
We were lucky enough to get our hands on a review copy but you can preview each of the tracks yourself here. Want to hear what we thought? Let's jump in...
Given that the brief for the album was "hard, edgy, dark yet euphoric, hi-octane hardcore music", the opening track - 'Berserk' by Hyper-on-Experience - sets the tone for things to come with a foreshadowing manga sample: "The end of days draw near...". 'Berserk' has its roots very much in the dark side of hardcore with its menacing bassline slowly deforming over time into a rugged screeching lead. Never has a track more succinctly met it's brief!
Sticking with the darker vibe, the second tune comes courtesy of Berlin-producer Z-NEO. 'The Pressence of Evil' combines original samples, ominous bells, squelching acid, unsettling pads and 'Here Comes the Drumz'-style hoovers to produce a rich and layered tribute to the dark side.
Nicky Allen strips things back with 'Impact' to produce a perfectly-crafted slice of 92-inspired darkcore. Opening with it's 'Sub Dub'-esque breakbeats, 'Impact' goes on to introduce a number of hooks and pads engineered in that minimalist, repetitive style of the era that'll get in your head and have you humming for hours.
Ron Wells - appearing here as Jack Smooth - contributes a beautifully produced jungle techno track in the shape of 'Confusing Times'. As the architect of the genre it's unsurprising that this tune completely nails the brief for the album and delivers on all fronts. The main hook has a real ear-worm quality that defies any listener not to dance. This is a production that oozes the quality you'd expect from an originator like Ron Wells. Also, bringing the jungle techno vibes is DUG with the much darker but high energy 'Target' - vocal samples rarely come darker than "Sometimes death is better"!
Secret Squirrel's contribution 'Non Human' comes in hard and uncompromising, alternating between kicks and breaks as ominous pads meet frenetic synths and dark vocal samples - definitely one for the techno heads - while 'Everybody Feels Hardcore' by KeeZee is a true dancefloor banger that feels like a six minute odyssey through hardcore. Starting with breakbeats and orchestral stabs 'Everybody Feels Hardcore' introduces an uplifting rave riff before relenting to the dark side with it's brooding pads.
Try Unity's 'War Horn' is a deep breakbeat roller that truly demonstrates that hardcore will never die! Contemporary and fresh whilst unmistakenly hardcore, this is a track that not once falls back on the formulaic tropes of the genre. 'War Horn' further cements Try Unity's status as flag bearers for new hardcore.
Similarly, 'Destroy Them' by Industries of the Blend is a further example of how breakbeat hardcore is very much alive and kicking. 'Destroy Them' is a progressive multi-layered production that combines hardcore stylings with a beautiful musicality that demands repeat listens. Unsurprising when you find out that Industries of the Blend is the latest project from rave-royalty Chris Howells (AKA DJ Luna-C).
DJ Jedi never fails to disappoint and 'Pain' is no exception - it's rolling breaks and sub bass breaking down to a classic euphoric rave riff all put together with the exceptional production skills we've come to expect. This a perfectly executed and complex production that'll tear up the dancefloor.
Blackmass Plastic and Worldwide Epidemic close out the album by bringing us full circle with a return to the darkside with 'Monolith' and 'Tek Waver' respectively. Blackmass Plastic's 'Monolith' is a blistering breakbeat assault on the senses with amens underpinning a truly end-of-days up bass lead... and that's when the hardcore hoovers kick in and turn the whole thing up to 11! Rounding off the album is 'Tek Waver' from Worldwide Epidemic - a deep, heads-down, jungle techno banger for the purists.
As with previous releases in the series, 'Calling the Hardcore - Volume 3' serves to push the scene forward and showcase both established and emerging artists. Even though the emphasis is on the darker side of hardcore this is an album that boasts variety as each artist approaches the brief with something unique. Rave Radio Records should be proud of their contribution to the scene as projects like this just go to show the creativity and range within the hardcore genre - from all out aural assault to moving musicality.
I often like to pick my top three tunes when I write a review but this has been a tough one. At a push, if I really had to... my personal highlights come from Jack Smooth, Hyper-on Experience, Try Unity, Blackmass Plastic and Industries of the Blend. Okay, so that's five, but it's my review so my rules!
Don't delay - bag a copy now because when it's gone, it's gone, and you won't want to miss out!