review

A maze of modulation and reverberations leads down many colorful tone vortices.

Deep clanging reverb tones. Unexpected reverb/modulation combinations.

Steep learning curve for a superficially simple pedal.

$209

SolidGoldFX Ether
solidgoldfx.com

4.5
4
4
4

A lot of cruel fates can befall a gig. But unless you’re a complete pedal addict or live in high-gain-only realms, doing a gig with just a reverb- and tremolo-equipped amp is not one of them. Usually a nice splash of reverb makes the lamest tone pretty okay. Add a little tremolo on top and you have to work to not be at least a little funky, surfy, or spacy. You see, reverb and modulation go together like beans and rice. That truth, it seems, extends even to maximalist expressions of that formula—like the SolidGold FX Ether.

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Stop Dave ... this fuzz may blow the whole freaking ship apart!

Expansive range of massive to fizzy fuzz tones. Killer studio tool. Top-notch build. Looks awesome.

Clipping options can make gain settings a maze.

$199

Acorn TMA-1
acornamps.com

5
5
4
4

I’ll admit it: The Kubrick fanatic in me made it impossible to ignore the HAL 9000-inspired Acorn TMA-1. But I would love the sound of this thing if it looked like an egg carton. Acorn calls the TMA-1 a four-stage transistor fuzz, which is generally shorthand for “Big Muff.” The circuit board looks the part. And certainly, the TMA-1’s biggest voice is as brutish as the nastiest Big Muff. But it’s also highly tunable. The tone knob ranges from doomy to garage-psych ’66 sizzly. There are plenty of growly sub-maximum gain settings to work with, and a ton of volume on tap, too.

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Looking for doom in all the wrong places? This meticulous recreation of the preamp from a rare ’80s amp is explosively effective.

Destructive amounts of volume, gain, and low end. Wall-of-amps doom in a box.

Somewhat confusing control labels and layout. EQ boosts can be subtle. You’ll probably want a noise gate.

$250

Frost Giant Architect of Reality
fuzzworship.com

5
4.5
4
4.5

If doom metal and its variants are big blips on your radar, you’ve probably noticed there’s a dearth of all-in-one stompboxes capable of unleashing genre-worthy filth and mayhem. A Big Muff (or any number of other fuzzes) and a distortion or two will take you a long way, but for dedicated doomers the aural onslaught usually isn’t just about cascading gain—it’s watts and decibels wreaking havoc on speaker cones. Which is why powerful heads (often 120- or 200-watt bass or PA models) from the likes of Sunn, Ampeg, Peavey, Orange, Hiwatt, Sound City, and Marshall largely rule the realm.

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