For many guitarists, the pursuit of the ultimate distortion is a relentless journey. While some prefer the raw power of amp-driven distortion, others, like myself, opt for a pedal-based approach. If you’re like me, I think you ought to give the Hades Metal Distortion, by GAMMA, a good look.
In this review, we'll explore the Hades in depth, comparing its features, sound, and versatility against its more renowned counterparts. Could this be the affordable pedal that outshines the legendary (and, depending on who you ask, infamous) Boss Metal Zone?
Features and Specifications
The GAMMA Hades Metal Distortion Effects Pedal is designed with precision, offering guitarists a reliable tool for achieving their desired tone. At its core, the pedal features a straightforward EQ section, with controls for Bass, Mid, and Treble, allowing for standard tone adjustments that metal guitarists are familiar with.
Technical specifications include:
- Power Input Compatibility: 9V DC (Center Negative)
- Power Draw: 30mA
- Battery Compatibility: 9V (Alkaline recommended) with a 16-hour runtime
- Input: 1/4" Instrument Level Input with an impedance of 650 kohms
- Output: 1/4" Instrument Level Output with an impedance of 1 kohms
- Dimensions: 4.59" x 2.75" x 2.19"
- Weight: .55 lb. (8.8 oz.)
Additionally, the pedal's buffered bypass ensures that your tone remains consistent, irrespective of its position in your signal chain. Its robust metal chassis and knobs are built to endure the demands of regular use, both on stage and in the studio.
After comparing the GAMMA Hades Metal Distortion with my Boss Metal Zone at Guitar Center, I found the Hades to be a more fitting choice for my setup. The Metal Zone was good, but I always described it as 90% of the way there. To me, the Hades gives me that extra 10% and then some.
Its performance in both standard and drop tunings has been great. While there's a hint of a phaser-like effect, it's so nuanced that it adds a touch of uniqueness to the overall sound. I’ve received compliments on my tone both from my band mates and from people online commenting on shorts I’ve uploaded. Speaking of which, here’s one where I’m using the pedal with my Charvel:
My go-to settings involve maxing out the bass for depth, setting the mids slightly past noon for clarity, and adjusting the treble to about 3 o'clock for sharpness. The gain control is where the Hades truly stands out. Not only does it allow the guitar to cut through the mix, but it also provides an incredible amount of sustain, especially when set above noon. When playing with my metal band, Valhalla, I max out the gain, benefiting from both its aggressive tone and its ungodly sustain.
Experimenting with other drive pedals, specifically my SD-1W and Sunday Afternoon is Infinity Bender, yielded mixed results. Running the Hades into other pedals, or vice versa, didn't quite hit the mark for me. While some might find a combination they like, the Hades, in my experience, is best used on its own.
Versatility and Sound
The Hades is not just a one-trick pony. Its versatility is evident in its ability to produce a spectrum of tones, from the dark and brooding sounds reminiscent of black metal to the aggressive bite of old-school hard rock. Its midrange control is a key player in this versatility. At lower settings, it evokes the chilling atmospheres of Scandinavian winters, while cranking it up transports you to the realm of British heavy metal. If you again dial back the mids, and you’ll land squarely in the territory of American metal. The pedal's design ensures that even with a high saturation level, every note and technique, be it rapid-fire shredding or palm-muted chords, shines through with clarity.
One of the standout features of the Hades is its ability to maintain articulation amidst the chaos. Whether you're aiming for aggressive scooped-mid sounds or melodic single-note lines, the pedal ensures that your playing remains front and center. Its saturation, while ferocious, never muddies the waters, allowing for a clear and defined tone. This articulation, is what I feel, sets it apart from the Boss Metal Zone and made it a clear pick for my pedal board.
Tips and Recommendations
Given the tonal range that the Hades offers, it's worth spending time to explore its full potential. While its saturation is articulate across the board, pairing it with other, non-drive effects can open up new sonic landscapes. For instance, adding a touch of chorus can give riffs a thicker texture, while introducing some ambient depth with a reverb can elevate your solos.
Personally I run a Carbon Copy as one of my few “always on” effects, and it really helps to make the driven sounds from the Hades Distortion sound larger than life.
That being said, the Hades is powerful enough to stand on its own, so don't be afraid to let it take center stage in your setup.
The GAMMA Hades Metal Distortion Effects Pedal is a testament to the fact that great pedals can be affordable. Its robust build, versatile tonal range, and awesome sustain make it a worthy addition to any metal guitarist's pedalboard, and the $79 price is near impossible to beat. While it may not gel with every overdrive or distortion pedal out there, its standalone capabilities are more than enough to justify its place in the spotlight. Whether you're a seasoned shredder or just starting your journey into the world of metal, the Hades is a pedal worth considering.