Digital hardcore can be best described as a mix of punk and electronica. Industrial guitars, shouted and screamed vocals along with high-tempo percussion are common elements of the genre. This sound developed over the course of the early 1990s, mostly in Berlin, Germany.
From its onset, the classic digital hardcore sound was defined by the work of Atari Teenage Riot, their frontman Alec Empire and the record label they formed in 1994, Digital Hardcore Recordings. Highly political lyrics, a sign of punk rock's influence on the genre and distorted drum loops often played at over 200 BPM were common elements in the genre. This style of drum programming would later be taken to an extreme in breakcore, which was heavily influenced by digital hardcore.
In addition to Atari Teenage Riot and related projects, other popular and influential bands of the genre in the 1990s included Cobra Killer and EC8OR.
The turn of the century brought about a number of changes in the scene, among them were the breakup of Atari Teenage Riot and a new creative direction taken by their record label. Numerous other bands, among them Ambassador21, Left Spine Down, Rabbit Junk, Schizoid and The Shizit, as well as record labels including Gangster Toons Industries (France), Praxis (United Kingdom), Cross Fade Enter Tainment (Germany), Drop Bass Network (United States) and Bloody Fist (Australia) have since gained a global following, turning the genre into "an international underground movement," to quote Alec Empire.
Although gear such as the Roland TR-909 was used extensively by early digital hardcore acts such as Atari Teenage Riot, other bands have used a variety of gear including the relatively inexpensive Yamaha SU10, demonstrating that there are no equipment prerequisites in the genre. However, other widely-used gear in the genre includes the Yamaha A-3000 and Akai S1100 samplers, Moog Music MF-102 Moogerfooger and Prodigy and the Roland SH-101 analog synthesizer.