of thrash-type tones without sacrificing
dimension—no mean feat, given the high-mid content that typifies the style. Given
the current trend toward thrashier distortions with a razor-sharp high end, this was
a welcome surprise.
The only trouble I encountered with the
XXX was trying to find a sweet spot that was
perfect for both rhythm and lead. When the
XXX was set for an inspiring, sustaining lead
tone that could rip the paint off the walls,
chugging riffs played with the same tone
seemed to have raspy, unrefined edges. Most
of the time I could cure this by decreasing
the gain, though that also stole away some of
the violin-like sustain I loved so much.
The XXX’s noise-reduction circuit is
pretty phenomenal. Instead of clamping
down on the end of notes like a steel trap,
it quickly rounds off the ends into silence.
It sounds exceptionally natural, so much
so that at times I forgot I even had it
turned on. Even so, I would have liked to
be able to alter the circuit’s settings—such
as the threshold. The manual recommend-
ed that I keep the switch off when using
lower gain settings, and I could hear why:
The gate shut down a little too quickly
on the ends of notes, sending them crash-
ing to earth instead of shrieking into the
stratosphere. With the gate off, I was able
to summon some really smooth and purr-
ing low-gain tones—provided the Hi con-
trol wasn’t set too high.
Guitarists have been searching for years
for a one-stop pedal that can convincingly
cover everything from old-school metal to
stuff at the thrashier end of the headbanging spectrum. If you’re on that quest, the
Metal Pedals HardCore XXX is definitely
worth a look. It’s versatile, flexible, easy
to use, and works really well with bright-voiced tube amps. Some minor tweaking is required to get a good balance of
rhythm and lead tones, but the powerful
EQ is up to the task. For those who have
spent countless hours and dollars trying to
achieve killer metal tones beyond those that
lurk in their amps, the search may well end
with the XXX.
you want to add a variety
of tight, fluid metal tones to
a brightly voiced amp.
you require a dual-channel pedal for
contrasting lead and rhythm tones.
or use a mobile device to watch a
video review of the pedal at