There are various ways to obtain fuzz sounds far more extreme than you encounter in most commercial stompboxes. But whether the method is synth-style filters, 555 timer chips, or just stupid amounts of gain, you encounter similar issues: a near-total loss of dynamics and decaying notes that fizzle out rather than fade.
But one player’s problem is another’s inspiration. For some adventurous tone-wreckers, brick-walled anti-dynamics and tones that start with a bang and end with a fart are features, not bugs. For fans of these gated fuzzes (yeah, I’m one) an abrasive kronk followed by a failing fzzzt is a fine expressive tool. And the new Blast Furnace from Fuzzrocious is a kronk and fzzzt superstar.
Hydrochloric Acid Rock
Blast Furnace’s core sound is a full-frequency assault. Notes have harsh, instantaneous attacks, and they burn at maximum heat—at least till they sizzle into oblivion like bugs hitting a zapper. The tones may be hot as hell—they’ll burn through anything!—but no one would call them warm.
A toggle switch selects between two profiles. One setting has no filtering: It’s extreme distortion across the guitar’s entire frequency range. The other position adds a radical midrange scoop. (A producer friend of mine calls this a “stoner vee,” because the faders on a graphic EQ form a V shape at such settings and because it’s a preferred EQ profile for stoner rock players.)
Keep It Stupid, Simple
The Blast Furnace has no gain controls—just a master volume pot. The distortion, meanwhile, is fixed at 11. And don’t expect to shape sounds with your guitar’s tone and volume knobs. You’ll barely hear a difference until your volume drops low enough for the fuzz to fizzle, which it was already planning to do anyway. You’re simply killing the notes before they kill themselves.
Still, Blast Furnace is no unpredictable anarchy box. Those definitive attacks and unrelenting levels work brilliantly for fast, rhythmically precise riffs. Blast Furnace’s roar may not be a conventional punk or metal sound, but it can work well within those styles, or for any music that relies on both unbridled aggression and metric precision.
Echoes of Destruction
Blast Furnace has another trick up its filthy sleeve: a primitive delay effect. We’re not talking spacious echoes, but a fast slap with a fixed delay time and wet/dry mix. (You can tweak the delay time via an internal trimpot.) However, the feedback level is adjustable. At low regeneration, the echoes add eerie ambience. Medium settings leave smeary psychedelic skid marks, while high settings generate robotic glitch loops and screaming self-modulation. For such a simple circuit, it sure can do a lot of damage! Best part: The delay footswitch is momentary, so you can apply echo as “tastefully” as you like. This can add dynamics and variation to tones that, by design, have little of either.
A cool, colorful illustration of an evil furnace adorns the pedal’s standard B-sized enclosure. (The graphics of our review pedal are decals, but Fuzzrocious also sells hand-painted versions.) Soldering and assembly are clearly done by hand, but it’s nice, solid work. The fuzz and delay components reside on separate boards. (Actually, Blast Furnace uses the same board as Fuzzrocious’s Anomalies delay. Its heart is a PT2399—the chip that launched a thousand DIY delay projects.) The pedal runs on conventional 9V power supplies. There is no battery compartment.
You don’t need me to tell you that Blast Furnace isn’t for everyone. Is there room in your music for tones that not only turn heads, but incinerate them? If so, this may be just your cup of bile. To quote Alex, the anti-hero from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Blast Furnace will “sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultraviolence.”