By 1987 a German party scene based around the Chicago sound was well established. The following year (1988) saw acid house making as significant an impact on popular consciousness in Germany as it had in England.
In 1989 German DJs Westbam and Dr.Motte established UFO, an illegal party venue, and co-founded the Love Parade. After the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989, free underground techno parties mushroomed in East Berlin, and a rave scene comparable to that in the UK was established.
But in 1991 a number of party venues closed, including UFO ,and the Berlin Techno scene centered itself around three locations close to the foundations of the Berlin Wall: Planet (later renamed E-Werk by Paul van Dyk), Der Bunker, and The relatively long-lived Tresor.
In the same period German DJs began intensifying the speed and abrasiveness of the sound, as an acid infused techno began transmuting into hardcore. DJ Tanith commented at the time that: “Berlin was always hardcore, hardcore hippie, hardcore punk, and now we have a very hardcore house sound. At the moment the tracks I play are an average one hundred and thirty five beats per minute and every few months we add fifteen more.”
2. United Kingdom
Early Hardcore producers such as SL2, Hyper-On Experience, DJ Jonny L and Sonz of a Loop da Loop Era, along with record labels such as Moving Shadow, Reinforced, XL and Formation evolved in a period where Techno was developing a harder edge, exploring the complex breakbeats that would later manifest themselves as Jungle and the subsequent development of Drum and Bass. The stylistic influence of techno including the movie, cartoon and media samples, and powerful synthesizer-based breakdowns characterized this earlier form of UK Hardcore, which some believed to have hit its first peak in 1992. For example, some fan websites go so far as to hyperbolically proclaim "1992 was the best year for music, EVER!"
With the diversity in sound available to producers rising with the onset of progressively more advanced computer and music production systems, electronic music was evolving at a rapid pace during this period. Hardcore, Techno, and Drum and Bass began split during this intense period of creativity, spinning off the genres Ragga and Darkside.
The United Kingdom-based rave hardcore scene of the 1990s encompassed several native styles through the years, techno and hardcore being the respective dominant genres in the North and South of the country for much of this period.
Through a combination of factors, hardcore had taken a new musical direction towards the latter half of the 1990s. It now had little musical resemblance to its origins, generally becoming more vocal-based and at times producing cover versions of popular songs. This sound attracted a younger audience in the UK. Elsewhere at this time, this particular sound had found a new worldwide audience in places such as Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States.
Producers looked to regenerate the United Kingdom rave hardcore music scene towards the end of the 20th century, taking influence from many different styles whilst trying to leave the late 1990s happy hardcore image behind. Their sound was called UK Hardcore; it has seen new producers enter the scene. This emerging sound is thought to have been influenced by Dutch gabber and Belgian hardcore; styles that were in their own perverse way paying homage to Underground Resistance and Richie Hawtin’s Plus8 Records. This current sound similarly has also found followers from all corners of the globe.
Hardcore also received its own special in 2004 on BBC Radio 1 entitled John Peel Is Not Enough named after a CLSM track of the same name.
3. The Netherlands
It was here where first gabber/hardcore track appeared - We Have Arrived (1990) by Mescalinum United.
Dutch Hardcore music is a fusion of techno and industrial blended in a dark atmosphere, experimental and hard. One of first Dutch hardcore tracks was Rotterdam Termination Source's Poing (1992) which became a major hit. The record shop Midtown in the Nieuwe Binnenweg of Rotterdam is considered one of the shrines of Gabber music.
During the early 90’s hardcore takes the rawest side of ‘acid’ and techno sound (including Belgian ‘new beat’ and some of Underground Resistance’s harder material) and pushes it to the furthest extremes of noise and speed. Frankfurt’s Planet Core Productions label and The Netherlands’ Rotterdam Records promote the sound in Europe, while Lenny Dee’s Industrial Strength label in NYC does it stateside (triggering the growth of the hardcore scene in Chicago, featuring DJ Delta 9, and the entire Milwaukee scene, represented by Drop Bass Network).
The mid 90s free festival scene represents the culmination of underground techno events in Europe, birthing such notable hardcore techno collectives as Spiral Tribe and Network 23. But as each country slowly latches down on party-goers, the scene is forced to retreat, and only really survives in France and Netherlands, where the hardcore scene delivers hard-hitting political critiques of the status quo through its devastating music.
After surviving underground for a number of years, in 2002 the style has became more popular again in the Netherlands, although the sound is more mature, darker and industrial. Around the world, it never lost its original grip, and music was evolving and creating new subgenres and approaches, from Digital Hardcore to Breakcore, from Noisecore to Speedcore.
Labels like Ant-Zen, Hands and other industrial/experimental ones use many Hardcore/Gabber elements and come close to what nowadays is called Darkcore. It was like if the "happy hardcore period" was overlooked, and Hardcore kept evolving from the oldskool times, maintaining the original industrial harshness and approaching other styles in a genre which is now one of the most rich and detailed in electronic music, due to its variety and broad range of talented artists.
As hardcore continues to grow, each different type of hardcore (each subgenre) begins to attract a larger fan base and more support from producers.