What is Hard Techno? Everything You Need to Know in 5min

what is hard techno

Ever wondered what Hard Techno (sometimes abbreviated to Hard Tekno) is? And what sets it apart “regular” Techno? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Hard Techno is a subgenre of techno music known for its intense, high-energy sound and relentless beats.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Hard Techno, including:

  • where Hard Techno comes from
  • what sets it apart from regular Techno by looking at key components (drums, bass, etc.)
  • and a few artists you should check out if you want to get into Hard Techno!

So without further ado, let’s explore the world of Hard Techno.

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What is Hard Techno?

First things first, let’s define what Hard Techno is.

You can think of Hard Techno as the younger, crazier brother of Techno. While Techno is sophisticated and mature, Hard Techno is more wild, aggressive and unruly.

Some of the things that set Hard Techno apart include:

  • fast tempo: Hard Techno often ranges between 140BPM and 160BPM, while regular Techno sits around 120BPM to 140BPM;
  • atmosphere: Regular techno is usually more repetitive and hypnotic, while Hard Techno is more aggressive, distorted, and raw.
  • arrangement: While Regular Techno often features long track times and slow build-ups, Hard Techno is more abrupt, with shorter runtimes, abrupt drops, and rapid changes between sections.

However, a track speaks a thousand words. So here are two examples, one of a classic Techno track, and one of a Gard Techno Track:

Age of Love, one of the best-selling Techno tracks of recent years
Push Up, a massive Hard Techno hit

You’ll notice that both tracks offer very different things in terms of track length, energy, and sound design.

It’s worth noting however that there can also be a lot of crossover between Techno and Hard Techno.

In the end, Hard Techno remains an offshoot of Techno. Many Techno artists might also produce Hard Techno, and vice-versa. Sound design techniques, types of drum samples used… A lot of those are similar between the two genres.

A Brief History of Hard Techno

Hard Techno’s roots can be traced back to the early 1990s in Europe.

Like a lot of “harder” styles of electronic music, Hard Techno originated in Germany and Belgium.

It emerged as a more aggressive and faster offshoot of traditional techno, influenced by the harder sounds of early rave music and industrial techno. Artists like Jeff Mills and Robert Hood were pioneers in this genre, shaping it and pushing the boundaries of traditional Techno.

Jeff Mills, a pioneer of the harder side of Techno
Jeff Mills, a pioneer of the harder side of Techno

The underground rave scene provided the perfect breeding ground for Hard Techno, with its emphasis on high-energy music and all-night dance parties. As the genre gained popularity, it began to influence other styles of electronic music, contributing to the development of subgenres like gabber and hardcore techno.

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Characteristics of Hard Techno

Now that we’ve defined with broad strokes what Hard Techno is, let’s dive a bit deeper. And the easiest is to contrast it with good old, regular Techno.

Drums

As mentioned previously, Hard Techno tracks typically feature a BPM ranging from 140 to 160, significantly faster than traditional techno. Producers will often use heavy, distorted kicks that are almost reminiscent of Hardstyle.

The rest of the beat will often be quite minimal, with sharp offbeat hi-hats and a bit of percussion.

In regular Techno, the drums are generally clean and polished. The patterns evolve slowly 32 or even 64 bars, maintaining a consistent groove. In Hard Techno, the patterns are more rapid and forceful, driving the energy of the track.

Bass

In regular Techno, the classic rumble bass is often used to create a more atmospheric feeling. There is less emphasis on an actual melody, and the bass provides more of a foundation for the rest of the elements (such as synths and vocals) to shine.

Example of a rumble Techno bass

The typical Hard Techno bassline is aggressive, with heavy use of sidechain compression.

Paired with the fast tempo, this creates an intense pumping effect between the kick drum and bass. In terms of sound design, acid basslines are often used.

Example of a Hard Techno bass

Synths and effects

Overall, synths and effects in regular Techno are used more melodically and atmospherically. Synth lines are often repetitive and evolve gradually. Effects such as phasing and filters are often used to create slow movement and variation while the melody remains the same.

In Hard Techno, synths are darker and more industrial. They are often dissonant and aggressive. Acid sounds are often used in combination with chaotic melodies, adding the intensity of the track.

In terms of effects, producers will often reach for distortion and saturation to make their sounds even more aggressive.

Arrangement

In terms of arrangement, regular Techno tracks have a more structured and predictable arrangement. They often feature gradual build-ups and breakdowns. The focus is on maintaining a consistent groove and evolving the track subtly over time.

In Hard Techno, it’s the exact opposite. A bit like with modern Dubstep, the focus is on sudden drops and rapid changes.

The track will often introduce new elements every 8 bars to keep the listener engaged. Tracks are shorter and aim and provide a sudden rush of adrenaline with instant hooks.

A typical Hard Techno structure
A typical Hard Techno structure

In this example, sections are no longer than 8 bars. After a mere 16 bars, we already have our first drop. And after 32 bars, we’re already in our first breakdown. In a regular Techno track, we would still be in the intro at this stage!

What Hard Techno Artists Should You Check Out?

So, now that you know what Hard Techno is, you might to check out some artists. Here are our top 5 recommendations to get you started.

As we discussed, Techno and Hard Techno feature a lot of crossover. This also means that artists are rarely one of the other, and often produce tracks in both genres.

Regal

Regal is a Spanish DJ and producer who has made a big impact on the Hard Techno scene. His tracks often feature fast tempos, aggressive beats, and acid influences. Songs like “Push It” and “Not Another Summer” from his most recent EP released in June of 2024 are great examples.

Regal, a Hard Techno producer
Regal, a Hard Techno producer

Creeds

A rising star of the Techno and Hard Techno scene, Creeds is a producer who is absolutely crushing it at the moment. His hits “Push Up” and “Work That” are prime examples of how anthemic Hard Techno can be.

His sound is almost best described as a crossover of Techno and Hardstyle, featuring the best of both worlds. Tracks are short and to the point, featuring huge distorted kick drums and massive basslines. With 8 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Creeds shows no sign of slowing down.

Dax J

A little more underrated, Dax J is a producer renowned for dark, industrial take on Techno. His track “Speedball” is a great example showcasing the raw edges of Hard Techno.

Dax J also owns the label Monnom Black, which has released a number of influential Hard Techno records. Although not as active in recent years, Dax J remains an artist with a solid discography.

Dax J, a hard techno producer
Dax J

I Hate Models

I Hate Models is a French producer and DJ known for his intense Hard Techno tracks.

My personal favorite is Werewolf Disco Club, an amazing production with French spoken word and a hypnotic bassline.

Blending elements of techno, acid, and industrial, his music is characterized by its aggressive beats but also an emotional dimension. His live performances in particular are always highly energetic and captivating.

BENNETT

A more recent arrival on the Hard Techno scene, BENNETT is yet another producer who has exploded recently.

The twist here is that BENNETT has made a name for himself with massive remixes such as “Vois sur ton chemin” and “DerniΓ¨re danse”.

Both these tracks are classic French songs that work surprisingly well in a Hard Techno context. People certainly seem to agree, with a combined 425 million streams on Spotify alone!

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Last Words on Hard Techno

That’s it for this guide on Hard Techno. We hope you found it useful and were inspired to discover more artists and tracks in this exciting subgenre. If you want to start producing this type of music, we’ve got you covered with our whole range of online courses, which you can check out here. And don’t forget to download our free EDM Starter Kit here below to get you started!

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