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  • Writer's pictureMartin van Zeelandt / TCD

Thunderdome CDs 2001 - 2003 (2023)

Let's go back in time. Roughly 20 to 22 years, back in time. Hardcore was 'dead', according to the news outlets from back in the day. It died back in 1998, when the Hardcore balloon burst, and it slowly disappeared. The mainstream followers went elsewhere, but some remained active in the underground scene. Hardcore had to reinvent itself again, and not be lead by commercialism, but by the reason the music was created in the first place: the love and enthusiasm for a genre that does not conform to the mainstream music genres, the top 40 kind of genres. Hardcore was for the ravers, and no one else. Thunderdome, the label, released the last big album in 1999, and for a short period of time, they went silent. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing.

But then, 2001 appeared, and so did the new Thunderdome album. And I was looking forward to hear something from the ID&T camp. I owned most of the Thunderdome CDs, and bought many merchandise items etc. And yes, I bought the box, which was released in 1999. All the goodies were mine, and I was a freak. A Thunderdome freak. 2 years of silence, it nearly drove me mad. Thankfully there were other labels still pushing out albums, but they were more underground focussed. Albums you would see in the top 40 displays in your local CD store. You would have to dig deep to find those albums. They were there, hidden away.

The 'new' Thunderdome album. It was different. No more nice images on the front. No more wizard, no more scary creatures, just a plain colour, and the word Thunderdome on the cover. That was all. No more numbers, just colours. It could have been a sign, that they reinvented themselves, and went back to a more simpler way of releasing albums and music. And my first impression, well, wasn't great. The album cover looked as bland as anything, and the music didn't capture my enthusiasm as much as I wanted it to be. They reinvented themselves, but not in an all positive way.

I wasn't impressed. I am not saying the previous albums were any better, as they were literally filled with any tracks they could find, be it good or bad tracks. Hell, they even fucked up certain artist names, song titles, remix names, etc. It was a mix and mash of everything they could find. But this new and revived Thunderdome wasn't everyone's cup of tea. Not for me, initially.

It got worst at a later stage, with Thunderdome 2nd Gen Part 1, Thunderdome 2005-I, Thunderdome 2006, Thunderdome 2007-I, but slowly gained my interest again in 2008, when it was called Thunderdome. Yeah, not very imaginative. But the 'bland' colour period, let's focus on those albums.

5 albums. Green, black, grey, red, and brown. It gave me mixed feelings. They weren't as cool as the previous albums. They had a cool cover image. They stood out. These bland ones just faded away into obscurity. But the music, that's a different story.

I didn't feel the music being Thunderdome-ish. I felt the Masters of Hardcore vibes coming through the speakers more. MoH dominated during the early Millennium years, and their sound just resonated throughout the scene. Most of the tracks on the Thunderdome 'bland' editions could have been easily on a MoH album, or did indeed appear on one of the MoH albums. Thunderdome tried to come back, but MoH beat them, hands down.

And maybe that's why I didn't appreciate the albums as much as I should have. They were OK, but that was it. Nothing to write home about, and I don't think many people would have these in their top 10 of best Thunderdome albums ever. People will vote for all the other albums before they consider these 5 bland ones. They still don't stand out from all the others Thunderdome has released so far, which is a pity.

Some of the records on these albums have stood the test of time extremely well. But you would expect to love at least 50% of a Thunderdome album, 25% would be records that you grow into, and 25% would be 'not really interesting songs'. But for me it was more like 25% wicked records, 50% meh, and 25% 'really bad records'.

Yes, I did buy all the albums. It is still a legendary brand, so I had to. But I slowly moved away from the label, and started purchasing other compilations, which meant more to me, like MoH. They knew what the audience wanted to hear, especially around the Millennium era. They nailed it. ID&T didn't. They gained me back at a later stage, but I've never fully recovered from the trauma which occurred when these disappointing albums were released. It just didn't get me excited anymore.

I am still a Thunderdome baby, and still consider it to be the top notch brand, the one that stood the test of time. But they certainly had their ups and downs, and these albums were definitely the worst for me. All of these haven't aged well. Let me reiterate: they are bland as fuck, but still each album had a few timeless classics on them. But the majority of the records weren't as good as you hoped them to be, or they weren't 'Thunderdome' enough. The previous albums had this sound, and you could tell if a song was on a Thunderdome album or not. But these 5 albums were a mashup of the good and bad.

I still listen to them every so often, and skip most of the albums to the good records. And guess what I did today? Exactly that! And when it comes to a Thunderdome album, you shouldn't really skip, at any stage. Yes, each albums, be it a 90s, 2000nd, or 2010 album, had their shit songs. But the older stuff was just much better.

Thankfully they did come back, and brought back the Thunderdome events too. But let's swiftly move on from this catastrophe. It wasn't a great few years for Hardcore, and also not for Thunderdome. But at least we can look back and have a giggle.

Can't give these albums more than a 2.5. Was thinking more a 2, but they still had a few big anthems on there. And I'm currently checking them out.

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