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The Armageddon is Egnater Amplification’s flagship offering to modern metal guitarists. Egnater has dipped their toes into the high-gain waters before—notably with the Vengeance amplifier. But the Armageddon’s extensive features, incredible power, and skull-crushing tone make it quite unlike any amp they’ve released before. It’s geared towards the modern metal guitarist who needs a window-rattling amp that can be tweaked to perfection in any situation. And with 120 tube-driven watts, the triple-channel Armageddon delivers pure metal fury, blistering overdrive, and knockout clean tones.
The Armageddon’s all-tube circuitry is housed in a durable steel chassis and generates that bludgeoning 120-watts of power from a quartet of 6L6 power tubes. The standby switch also serves as a half-power switch, so it’s easy to drop down to 60 watts for lower volume and headroom. The preamp’s substantial array of six 12AX7 tubes glow menacingly—ready and willing to help unleash the Armageddon’s merciless overdrive.
While it may look complicated, the amp is fairly forgiving and easy to control. There are three dedicated channels for clean, low-to-mid-gain, and over-the-top, beastly distortion. You can switch from channel to channel using a button next to the input jack, or from the included foot controller. Individual channel controls are arranged logically on the amp’s LED-illuminated aluminum front panel. Channel 1 (for clean tones) uses its own 3-band EQ, while channels 2 and 3 have to share a EQ control set. Each channel has its own controls for setting preamp gain and channel volume, along with dedicated voicing switches for tightening response, adding brightness, and boosting gain. There’s also an excellent digital reverb that can be set independently for each channel from the back panel.
Egnater also threw in ISP’s Decimator G-String noise-reduction circuit for feedback abatement. Taken from the Decimator pedal, this circuit is popular with metal players because it tracks the guitar’s signal rather than background noise, which makes staccato riffs and palm-muted rhythms sound tighter and cleaner.
The far-right section of the amp’s faceplate features a handy set of global settings for low-end density, presence, master volume, and a brilliant master midrange section for fine-tuning those frequencies. Lowering the depth knob cuts the mids, while raising the control boosts them. The level control, meanwhile, sets the volume level when the section is turned on. It’s activated from either a push button or from the foot controller, which gives you the ability to use it as a solo boost or instant midrange scoop for rhythm.
The back panel sports a serial effects loop with send and return level controls, the aforementioned reverb level controls, an XLR line out, and MIDI in and thru jacks for assigning the amp’s functions to a separate controller. There’s also a bias adjustment panel for convenient power tube replacement, and the Armageddon can also accept EL34, 6550, KT66, KT77, and JJ-branded 6V6 power tubes if you want to change the character of the amp more profoundly.
Egnater designed and tuned the cabinet specifically to handle the Armageddon’s power and punchy low end. The AR-412 slant and straight 4x12s are built from birch ply and are loaded with two Celestion G12T-75s and two Celestion Egnater Elite-100 speakers. The cabs automatically sense the amp’s impedance setting and match the amp to keep it from being damaged. Plus, there’s an XLR jack that delivers a mic emulation (which can be switched to simulate center-cone or edge-of-cone placement) to a mixing console.
A Day of Reckoning
I haven’t encountered very many high-gain amps with a clean channel as sparkling and lush as the Armageddon’s. The highs are smooth and crisp and reveal copious pick detail. The amp delivers a very nice American-style voicing that has a lot in common with a blackface Fender, but with a stronger and more pronounced low end. The voicing switches are very effective in further tightening the lows and adding a touch of brightness, and the EQ is wonderfully responsive.
The amp’s digital reverb is programmed with a hall-type voicing that’s friendlier to higher-gain tones. It has no real bounce to speak of—this is more of a controlled ambient sound that doesn’t react too much to harder picking. But its deep and lush tonality adds pleasing dimension to the amp’s clean tones, and the trail feature makes switching to other channels sound smoother and less jarring.
Things start to get hairier with a switch to channel 2, which has much more of a classic Egnater voice—an upfront and muscular midrange, rounded highs, and tight lows. By keeping the preamp gain below 12 o’clock and making use of the channel’s three voicing switches, it’s easy to get those lower-gain classic rock and blues tones offered by the company’s Tweaker 88 and Renegade amplifiers.
As soon as the gain reaches around 1 o’clock, the mids take on a gutsier, more aggressive sound that lends itself to late-’70s power metal, and ’80s hard rock. If you’re using hotter pickups though—the Tom Andersons in the Les Paul Custom used for this test, for instance—it’s best to keep the gain set right at the point where there’s just a slight bite on the top end, and then use the channel volume, EQ, and density controls to dial in the punch. It’s a great technique for keeping a clear and consistent tone that doesn’t turn into mush.
Channel 3 reveals exactly why the Armageddon earned its namesake. Its gain capabilities are way beyond channel 2, and the extended low-end response makes it perfect for dropped tunings. With a Gibson Les Paul Studio Baritone out front, channel 3 filled the room with thick, brutal lows that were astonishingly tight. Kicking in the master midrange function with a scooped setting delivered a fat low end and vicious highs. The channel could be pretty noisy at times, but the ISP Decimator circuit made short work of any feedback and noise issues, and tightened up the tone. You do, however, have to adjust the control carefully so it doesn’t squelch the tone and kill the sustain.
For as much gain as the Armageddon’s channel 3 has on tap, it’s not very forgiving with sloppy picking techniques. The lows are very sensitive to pick attack, which results in a boomier sound if you hit the strings hard. The AR-412 cab keeps up with quick galloping thrash and tight-fisted staccato riffs without any loss of detail, and the low end is extremely tight. The cab also does a great job handling high volumes, but at lower volumes it has a tendency to sound a little thin. It really sounds best when it’s pushing a lot of air.
The Armageddon and AR-412 cab is a fantastic setup for the modern metal guitarist who wants extreme gain, total control, and exceptionally tight delivery. The setup can reward you with outstanding high-gain tone—especially when you pay close attention to your picking cleanliness. Plus, the amp has got a pretty killer clean channel, a rare find in modern high-gain amps such as this. Top all this off with superb build quality, multiple switching options, brilliant noise reduction circuit, and master midrange control, and you’ve got a rig that’s ready, willing, and able to bring metal heads to their knees.