Black metal amp

Black metal amp DEFAULT

infinitenexus wrote:

For the first Burzum album, he played a distortion pedal through a stereo amp and speakers to purposely get a shitty guitar tone. So if you want a guitar tone like that, don't worry about anything high quality.

Now if you want an amp that actually sounds good and is appropriate for black metal, I would say get a solid state amp, like an old ampeg SS/SS/VH

I don't want the ton Varg has on Filosofem for my project. I love that album but I am looking to play a more "furious" type of Black Metal.

FearTheNome wrote:

Old school raw black metal was mainly broke kids who used whatever they could get their hands on. Get a cheap solid state amp, maybe a pedal if you want.

The raw recording sound mainly comes from home recordings where they had no idea what they were doing. If you don't know anything bout recording, you're in luck, because you know everything you need to know. Get a rock band video game mic and a cheap all-in-one recording studio gadget find the record button, and get started. It'll sound appropriately terrible.

Obviously the unifying concept is cheap, shitty, and inept. If you pay more than a few hundred bucks or spend more than a few hours learning what you're about, you're doing it wrong.

What does a pedal add? I know bugger all about pedals. I will defintly take your advice as on recording. I am going to use any cheap recording device I can get my hands on.

somefella wrote:

Get just about any amp with distortion and any guitar with humbuckers and you're set for that.

My guitar has humbuckers. Do you know if a pedal will help me get a sound more like the bands I am influenced by? Or do I even need a pedal?

ShaolinLambKiller wrote:

I'd even recomment a Crate GXL or a Crate GXc or a Crate GX /

This was recorded with a Crate GXL nothing extra on it:

That sounds pretty good. I don't know what amp I will use but that is a contender.

Zodijackyl wrote:

Get an old (80s/early 90s) solid state combo amp with high gain. Turn the treble and gain up, if it sounds alright, get it. I prefer old Peavey combo amps.

I already know to turn up the treble, now I know to turn the gain up as well.

somefella wrote:

Anyway I don't believe in things like "this amp should be used for this genre'. The way I see it, you can record black metal tunes with a Dual Rectifier if you know how to write and play black metal. The music makes the genre, not the amp voicing. There's that Black Metal Pedal, limited to pieces worldwide(oh wow, much satan, such kvlt) which has such a typical and meh sound. These are the same people who will tell you black metal is about individuality and expression and all that, but they follow these 'rules' as strictly as Ke$ha obeys her producer and management team.

You are right. I will probably use any amp I can get my hands on that is of a decent size. I have heard of that pedal and I defintly wont invest in 1(If I somewhow manage to find it). I want my project to be unique. People need to break boundaries when they make music. Genrally I am less interested in bands if dozens of bands already sound like them.

Big_Grand wrote:

I'd recommend buying a tape recorder and some audio cables, or a cheap mic that plugs into it, and you might need an interface to play it back to your computer unless you have another method of doing so. Plug it into any amp with distortion and it will have that raw sound you're going for. The biggest thing you need to keep in mind though is that you will need to record tracks one at a time, and probably record over them when you finish, so you will probably need to have a metronome playing, as well as you will need to memorize where every part is since you can't play them back. Here's an ambient track I did this way

I will get a cheap electric tape recorder from the shops during the next few days. Do you mean audio cables like the ones that plug into the back of TV's? They are in red and white and the picture cable is in yellow. That ambient song sounds pretty cool.

Thanks for the help guys. I would also like to know what does a pedal actually add to raw Black Metal? I know Swedish Death Metal bands use a pedal to get their guitar sound like in this video.
I really know bugger all about pedals. I would like it if MA would list the equipment bands used though I am sure MA does in a few cases. I would be nice to know what my favourite bands used on their albums, especially considering I want to have projects that play different sub-genres and sub-sub genres of metal in the future. Does anyone know if albums by the bands I listed use pedals of not? I would like to play Death Metal in the future and I am pretty sure I would need a pedal for that(But thats for another topic). Did Ulver used pedals on Nattens? What about Goatmoon, Darkthrone ect? I am also inspired by some of the BlazeBirth Hall bands. I know what recording device I will use, probably what amp I will use but I do not know if it would be a good idea to use a pedal or not.


The 8 best amps for metal play loud and proud with the best metal amps on the market

In the eyes of the metal guitar gods, not all amps are made the same. There’s myriad distortion pedals out there that would easily turn even the cleanest of cleans into a gut-wrenching box of filth, many of metal’s biggest brains will admit that it’s nearly all about getting as good an amp sound as possible. It’s for that reason that we've put together this guide to the best amps for metal.

A more direct signal path is a metal players dream - and amps designed with both lower tunings and extreme gain settings in mind will naturally require fewer pedals to enable players to add drive or shape EQ.

Whether you're looking for a dependable, affordable workhorse from the likes of PRS, Orange and Marshall; or are tempted by uncompromising, higher-end standouts from EVH, Peavey and Mesa/Boogie, there’s plenty of metal amp options out there.

Are you looking for a great deal on a metal amp this Black Friday? Check out our Black Friday guitar deals page for the latest news, and the best offers around.

If you’re looking for more guidance hit the ‘buying advice’ button above, but if you’re ready to shred you can check out our top picks below.

Best amps for metal: Our top picks

Overall, right now the best of the best has to be the PRS MT15 Mark Tremonti. Not only does it look cool, switching from the crystal blue lights of its clean channel to the fiery reds of its lead mode, but the overdriven sounds are good enough to rival what you’d expect from boutique amps retailing for up to four times as much. Tremonti [of Alter Bridge, Creed and Tremonti fame] likes his Watt PRS signature lunchbox so much that he used it for the bulk of his heavier tones on Alter Bridge’s ace album, Walk The Sky.

If you're looking for something more versatile, the Hughes & Kettner GrandMeister Deluxe 40 will deliver all your tonal needs. It’s an amp-tweakers dream, with ridiculous levels of extra control over the in-built digital effects and virtually infinite MIDI switching. Even just on face value, it’s an amp that will stand its ground against any other, with shimmering cleans and thunderous high gain.

At the cheaper end of the metal amp spectrum, we can also happily recommend the Orange Micro Dark mini hybrid lunchbox head and the excellent Boss Katana Mk2 combo.

Best amps for metal: Product guide

1. PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti

Simply one of the best hard rock and metal amps out there at this price point

Price: $/£ | Type: Lunchbox tube head | Output: 15W, switchable down to 7W | Number of channels: 2, with clean pull-boost | Tubes: 2x 6L6, 6x EC83S | Weight: pounds

Great bang for your buck

Incredible high-gain tones

Fantastic build

Gorgeous lights are the perfect touch

Clean channel doesn't really stand out 

No reverb onboard

The MT 15 Mark Tremonti is a two-channel “lunchbox” amp powered by a pair of 6L6 output tubes and six 12AX7 preamp tubes. 

Similar to the PRS Archon, the MT 15 features five gain stages before the Master for full, lush distortion. And while the MT 15 was designed with heavier players - such as Tremonti himself - in mind, the amp offers a range of tones for guitarists working in any number of styles. 

The Lead channel offers thick, chunky tones and features controls for Gain, Master, Treble, Middle and Bass, while the Clean Channel is bright and chimey and boasts Volume, Treble, Middle and Bass knobs, as well as a push/pull boost on the Treble knob for a bit of old-school crunch. 

Additional features include an effects loop and bias adjusters that are accessible from the back panel for ease of servicing, as well as a half-power switch that takes the amp from 15 to 7 watts. 

The compact MT 15 comes in an all-steel chassis with a perforated lid and black-matte finish. Additionally, when powered up, the MT 15’s valves are lit by LEDs which glow red for the Lead channel and blue for the Clean. A striking and very cool aesthetic touch.

Read the full PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti head review

2. Hughes & Kettner GrandMeister Deluxe 40

A serious tool with the capability to withstand just about anything a guitarist can throw at it.

Price: $1,/£ | Type: Tube head with digital control and digital effects | Output: 40W, switchable down to 20W, 5W, 1W and 0W | Number of channels: 4, with built-in effects | Tubes: 4x EL84, 3x 12AX7 | Weight: 17 pounds

Dizzying array of features

Compact, portable and incredibly durable

Internal Wi-Fi would be nice for editing purposes

An updated version of the most successful model in Hughes & Kettner's TubeMeister range, the GrandMeister 40 Deluxe is a serious tool with the capability to withstand just about anything a guitarist can throw at it. The GrandMeister has a smart steel case and Perspex control panel featuring nine knobs and a big four-way rotary voice switch. 

Aside from the amp's master volume, everything is MIDI-powered. MIDI controls the built-in five-step attenuator, series effects loop, boost voicing and phenomenal built-in digital effects. Of course, you can also edit and store presets to your heart's content. 

The amp's two American-voiced lead channels have massive amounts of gain - perfect for modern drop-tuned metal - with a wonderfully sculpted top-end that squeals and snarls on demand. The built-in noise gate does a nice job of eliminating the hiss on higher gain settings and the new, thicker voicings sound equally fantastic with regular single coils and PAF-style humbuckers. 

The Ultra channel's attack also gets you just about where you need to go for extreme metal. Overall, the Hughes & Kettner GrandMeister 40 Deluxe is a durable, formidable and practically perfect amp.  

3. Peavey Invective Amp Head

Versatile and powerful, this amp's sounds range from the cleanest cleans to densely layered high-gain harmonic overtones.

Price: $1,/£1, | Type: Tube head | Output: W into 4, 8 or 16 Ohms | Tubes: 4x JJ6L6GC | Number of channels: 3 | Weight: pounds

Tones are refined in incredible detail

Included MIDI controller provides access to a wealth of features

Notes always retain clarity, even with the aggressive Crunch and Lead channels

It's quite heavy!

Developed in collaboration with Misha Mansoor of Periphery, the Peavy invective amp head is built to fit every need of today's modern progressive metal guitarist. 

Four JJ 6L6 tubes provide watts of output, while the 6L6s can be swapped for EL34, 6CA7, , KT66 or KT88 tubes for different tonal personalities and performance. 

Six 12AX7A tubes provide gain for the clean channel and crunch/lead channels (with six gain stages for crunch/lead) and phase inverter and loop driver functions. The included footswitch can control individual channels and functions and provides instant access to nine user-programmable presets or control of an external MIDI device.

The invective ’s tones are familiar but refined in exquisite detail, and range from the cleanest cleans to densely layered high-gain harmonic overtones with percussive attack and tight decay. 

The amp can push high-gain distortion to extreme levels, yet the sound never gets compressed into mush. With its versatile functions and performance features, the invective is truly one of the best metal amps out there. 

Read our full Peavey Invective Amp Head review

4. Orange Micro Dark

A pint-sized hybrid amp with an atomic gain section

Price: $/£ | Type: Mini-lunchbox hybrid head | Output: 20W | Number of channels: 1 | Tubes: 1x 12AX7 preamp | Weight: lbs

Great value for money

Amp heads don’t get any more portable

Durable build with simple control panel

Heaps of gain

Buffered effects loop

It’s fierce, but not quite enough volume suitable for larger gigs

The Orange Micro Dark sure is tiny but it's more than capable of tones that will scorch the earth around you, and perfectly voiced for any kind of high-gain, heavy metal hi-jinks.

The set up is simple. It’s a single-channel hybrid amp with a solid-state power section being fed by a preamp that’s got a single 12AX7 tube to give its crunch a nice and juicy dynamic response. The control panel has knobs for volume, shape and gain, with the shape control running from a predominantly mids-scooped tone at one extreme to a more mids-heavy, punchy tone at the other.

At watts, the Micro Dark is more than powerful enough for band practice or small gigs – cab permitting – and with an emulated headphones output it's ideal for late-night silent practice. Run it clean, run it fierce, there’s plenty of range on that gain control, and a buffered effects loop on the back for hooking up your pedalboard. 

Read the full Orange Micro Dark review

5. EVH III Watt EL34 Head

Amazingly versatile and incredibly aggressive, this is one of the most impressive amps to come along in recent times.

Price: $1,/£1, | Type: Tube head | Output: 50W | Tubes: 2x EL34, 7x ECC83S | Number of channels: 3 | Weight: pounds

Incredible, flexible gain tones

Delivers classic Eddie Van Halen tones with aplomb

Massive and tightly focused bass on Channel 3

Not a great choice for cleaner players

A little pricey

The little brother of sorts to the absolutely monstrous EVH III EL34 watt head, the EVH III EL34 watt head packs the same amazing tones of its watt counterpart into a slightly more manageable package. 

A pair of JJ EL34 power amp tubes and seven JJ ECC83/12AX7 preamp/effects loop tubes provide 50 watts of output and amazing gain, while the four-switch foot controller allows users to select individual channels and the effects loop with clickless, pop-free performance.

Channel 1 provides British-flavored clean tones with ample headroom, Channel 2 delivers the ballsy, classic crunch of Eddie Van Halen’s legendary Marshall Super Lead (heard on the first six Van Halen albums) while Channel 3 - with its massive but tightly focused bass - is simply perfect for the modern metal guitarist.

The EVH III EL34 watt head may be louder, but the watt head hits the power tube distortion sweet spot at lower volume levels. Most guitarists will find the lower levels more appealing for studio applications and gigs in venues where “total annihilation” volume levels aren’t necessary.

Amazingly versatile and incredibly aggressive, the EVH III EL34 watt head is one of the most impressive amps to come along in recent times. 

Read our full EVH III Watt EL34 Head review

6. Mesa/Boogie Mark Five: 35

The Mark Five: 35 is perfect for whatever breed of dirt your heart desires.

Price: $1,/£1, | Type: Tube head | Output: 35W, switchable down to 25W, 10W | Number of channels: 2 | Tubes: 4x EL84, 6x 12AX7 | Weight: 27 pounds

Terrific high-gain settings

Malleable sustain and controlled feedback

Great tones overall

Cabinet comes separately

A loud pop when switching between channels

The Mark Five: 35 amp head has two independent channels, each with three modes: Clean, Fat and Crunch on Ch1; MkIIC+, MkIV and Xtreme on Ch2. A 5-band EQ can be selectable per-channel to be on, off or footswitch-enabled. In addition, there are independent, footswitchable Solo level controls for each channel, as well as Reverb and a 35/25/watt power option. 

Sonically, the Mark Five: 35 offers aggressive metal tones in its creamy yet sizzling high-gain settings - all with lots of beating overtones amid string bends - and delightfully malleable sustain and controlled feedback. 

Vintage, Eighties-style metal comes from Ch2’s absolutely blistering MkIIC+ setting, while a more modern tightness and thump sprouts from the amp when set to Xtreme. But the Mark Series amps have always been more than just shred machines, and judicious gain settings easily straddle classic rock, punk, garage, grunge, or whatever breed of more restrained dirt your heart desires. 

7. Boss Katana MKII

Amp modeling, onboard effects, and serious tone

Price: $/£ | Type: Modeling combo | Output: W | Number of channels: 5 (amp types) | Tubes: N/A | Weight: lbs

A feature-stacked combo

The 12” speaker pushes a lot of air

Amazing level of control

Five amp types, 60 Boss effects via Tone Studio software

Exceptional value

It doesn’t necessarily look mind-blowing

The Katana can pretty much do anything. Jazz-funk? Sure. Spanky clean country? Yippee. There are five amp types onboard, which effectively means the Katana is a five-channel amp, with Clean, Crunch, Lead, Acoustic and Brown amp models. Factor in all the Boss effects and you see what we mean about it being a Swiss Army Knife for tone.

But this is the best metal amp buyer’s guide so let’s just get down to it. The spandex-legged of you might then want to park yourself in the Brown channel, which is lifted directly from the Boss Waza amplifier and will put the E into the VH of your rock tones. The Lead amp, meanwhile, has all the gain you need to turn your signal into something that could slice through steel.

Dialing in tones is a cinch. There is a variable power control so you can switch it down to half-power or a measly watts to get super-cranked tones at bedroom level. The amp also features stereo expansion possibilities and an effects loop – but then with 60 effects available via Boss’s Tone Studio software you might not need them.

Read our full Boss Katana MKII review

8. Marshall DSL20C

Marshall magic, without the k-robbing prices

Price: $/£ | Type: Tube combo | Output: 20W, switchable to 10W | Number of channels: 2 | Tubes: 2x EL34, 3x ECC83 | Speaker: Celestion Seventy (80W) | Weight: 36 pounds

Classic channel which delivers, well, classic Marshall tone

Aforementioned classic Marshall tone comes at an affordable price

Standby switch allows for use onstage and in the practice room

Clean tone connoisseurs pretty much requires single-coil pickups

The watt, two-channel DSL20C comes loaded with a pair of EL34 power tubes and three ECC83 preamp tubes, with a single Celestion Seventy 80 inch speaker housed in the semi-open-back cabinet. 

There are two individually voiced channels - Classic, which delivers a variety of seminal Marshall tones, and Ultra, which straddles a fine line between the beloved Marshall tones of the late Seventies and Eighties and modern high-gain textures. 

Each boasts its own Gain and Volume knobs, a shared set of EQ controls (treble, middle, bass, presence and resonance) and a reverb level control. Full-(watt) and half-power (watt) settings are selected via the standby rocker switch, and a Channel Select switch lets users manually change channels when the footswitch controller (which is included with the amp) isn’t connected.

A highly versatile amp, the DSL20C delivers various flavors of classic, coveted Marshall tones, but priced low enough for beginners to consider as their first amp. At the same time, it doesn’t skimp on features, making it ideal for more experienced players who crave some Marshall magic in their studio arsenal without robbing funds from their Ks. 

Read the full Marshall DSL20C review

Best amps for metal: Buying advice

With any amp - metal or otherwise - it’s worth bearing in mind whereabouts you’ll be using it most. If you’re going to be shredding a festival main stage, then a Friedman Watt stack might be the best metal amp for you - but if you’ll only be shredding the bedroom stage at practice-land, you’ll never get the chance to hear what it can do best. Well, not without damaging neighborly-relations.

Grabbing yourself an attenuator is always an option, but rather than spending more money you could save a fair bit if you treated yourself to something at a lower wattage. Not only would it be more cost-effective, but you’d also be able to drive the valves more and hear them truly at work.

Also, take a minute to think about the kind of gain tone you’ll be going for with your metal amp, and more specifically the pre-amp valves. EL34s or EL84s will generally offer more of a creamier, British-voiced sound, while 6L6s have generally been associated with Fender’s world-famous compressed cleans and the full-throttle high gain offered by Mesa/Boogie amps.

Other amps - the EVH III for instance - are much better suited to the sharp precision of higher gain metallic thunder, from the EVH-like tones its name would suggest though to Gojira levels of brain-melting. Its clean and crunch sounds are commonly disregarded as being a little bit underwhelming, but if you’re a guitarist who doesn't really plan on spending much time using this amp in its un-driven mode you’ll be just fine here.

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Sunn O)))

American experimental metal band

Sunn O))) (pronounced "sun") is an American experimental metal band from Seattle, Washington, formed in They are known for their slow, heavy sound, which blends diverse genres including drone, black metal, dark ambient and noise rock,[1] as well as for their loud live performances.

The band's core members are Stephen O'Malley (also of Khanate and Burning Witch) and Greg Anderson (of Goatsnake and Engine Kid).[2]


Sunn O))) is named after the Sunnamplifier brand, the logo of which includes a circle next to the "SUNN" banner with waves heading off to the right. In interviews, Stephen O'Malley stated that the band's moniker was also chosen as a play on the name Earth, a band widely regarded as pioneers of drone metal throughout the s. Before the band members moved to Los Angeles, they briefly used the moniker Mars.

The band's style is characterized by slow tempos, distorted guitars, lack of rhythm and melody, and alternative tunings. The guitars are notable for their low register, frequently utilizing tunings as low as dropped A. Additionally, the band is known for using resonant feedback to create monolithic soundscapes and eerie atmospheres. Percussion is rarely incorporated, with a lack of any discernible beat. When performing live, the band wears robes, fills the air with fog, and plays at a high volume.[2]

The band releases the majority of its music through the label it founded in , Southern Lord Records. However, the band initially released ØØ Void (its second album) on multiple labels, including Rise Above Records, Hydra Head Records, and Dirter Productions (which pressed it as a double album on vinyl). Additionally, the original pressing of The Grimmrobe Demos was released by Hydra Head Records. It was later issued as a double picture record set by Outlaw Recordings and finally reissued by Southern Lord in

The logo the band uses is also that of the Sunn amplifier brand.

In , Sunn O))) released a live album titled Dømkirke and also announced a mini-tour consisting of four concerts to commemorate the group's 10th anniversary, which coincided with the release of The Grimmrobe Demos.[3]

On December 17, , the song "Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia)" from the CD Monoliths & Dimensions was named the Heaviest Song of All-Time by Jason Ellis on The Jason Ellis Show on Sirius/XM. Greg Anderson then appeared on The Jason Ellis Show on January 12, [4] Hungarian-born Attila Csihar (Mayhem) has performed live with the band as their primary vocalist since

Sunn O))) released a collaboration album with Ulver titled Terrestrials in February [5] in October , the band released the album Soused, a collaboration with singer-songwriter Scott Walker.[6] In November , Sunn O))) presented a four-day program at Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands, including Annette Peacock, Magma, Julia Holter and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and Sunn O))) itself.[7]

The band worked with producer Steve Albini on two albums, Life Metal and Pyroclasts.[8]

Musical style[edit]

Sunn O)))'s musical style has been described as drone metal,[9][10]doom metal,[1][11]experimental metal[12][13]black metal,[14][1]noise rock,[1] and dark ambient.[1] Sunn O))) experiments with a variety of styles and sounds, progressing beyond the primarily guitar and bass style of The Grimmrobe Demos and ØØ Void. On White1 and White2, the band noticeably expanded on conceptualization by inviting several guests, resulting in everything from quiet meditative ambient sounds ("A Shaving of the Horn that Speared You" from White1) to a bizarre bass experiment track ("bassAliens" from White2). Black One continued in this direction, utilizing far more electronics, synthesizers, and other instrumentation than earlier Sunn O))) material, yet still marking a significant return to their traditional sound.

Sunn O))) on stage at the Ritz in Manchester, June 11,

Sunn O))) are widely regarded as leaders in the genre, including by The New York Times Magazine of May 28, , when the band was written up in an article called "Heady Metal" by John Wray.[15] Sunn O))) also appeared in the August issue of Q magazine (the "loud issue"), with its album White1 being named the 18th-loudest album of all time, just above AC/DCsBack in Black and below Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced?[16]


For a more comprehensive list, see Sunn O))) discography and List of songs recorded by Sunn O))).

Studio albums[edit]

Collaborative albums[edit]


  1. ^ abcdeMonger, James Christopher. "Sunn O)))". AllMusic. Retrieved January 30,
  2. ^ abWray, John (May 28, ). "Heady Metal". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12,
  3. ^"Sunn O))) Announces US Tour Dates". August 8, Retrieved July 20,
  4. ^[1][dead link]
  5. ^"Sunn O))), Ulver Ready 'Terrestrials' Album for February Release". November 18, Retrieved December 21,
  6. ^Minsker, Evan (July 17, ). "Scott Walker and Sunn O))) Team for New Album Soused". Pitchfork.
  7. ^"Le Guess Who? Festival official site". Retrieved June 17,
  8. ^"Sunn O))), Amanda Palmer, Spiritualized, Saves The Day & more releasing pink vinyl for cancer charity". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved July 31,
  9. ^Roche, Jason (December 7, ). "Are Drone-Metal Icons Sunn O))) the Loudest Band on the Planet?". LA Weekly. Retrieved January 30,
  10. ^Brennan, Colin (May 27, ). "Sunn O))) to play metal show in world's largest maze". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved January 30,
  11. ^Sharpe-Young, Garry; Born, R. "Sunn O)))". MusicMight. Archived from the original on July 21, Retrieved March 27,
  12. ^Martens, Todd (January 6, ). "Indies on the Verge". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media. (1): ISSN&#; Retrieved August 6,
  13. ^"Scott Walker teams up with experimental metal duo Sunn O)))". The Guardian. July 2, Retrieved January 30,
  14. ^Maloney, Ali (November 28, ). "Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley: "Metal can be absurd and also really profound"". The Skinny. Retrieved March 15,
  15. ^Wray, John (May 28, ). "Heady Metal". Retrieved May 5,
  16. ^"The 20 Loudest Albums Of All Time". Q. August Archived from the original on March 5, Retrieved December 21,

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sunn O))).
Black Metal Lesson #13 - Black Metal Tone

Making sense of heavy metal subgenres can be one of the most fascinating and frustrating endeavors of any music genre. Think about it: Judas Priest is as far from Meshuggah as Hank Williams is from Florida Georgia Line. And the metal family tree is only getting more complicated as time goes.

Interestingly, though there are countless forms of metal, there are only a handful of guitar amplifiers that have laid and continue to lay the foundation for them all. So in an attempt to bring some sort of unity to the ever-tumultuous waters of what's metal and what's not, let's investigate the high-gain heads and combos that unify music's heaviest form.

Honorable mentions:Marshall Watt Plexi, JMP , JCM
Subgenre: New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM)

Marshall x Amp Head | Reverb Demo Video

"British Steel," "Number of the Beast," "Ace of Spades." The sound of a boosted Marshall Plexi and "Metal Face" amp was responsible for all three of these albums—and invented what we know today as high-gain metal tone.

That's thanks in large part to the fact that there weren't many other options around at the time. As hard rock morphed from '70s swagger to the galloping-riff power that was exploding out of the UK, their punishingly loud volumes and thick (for the era) onboard distortion made them the only real choice for the bands at the forefront of metal. And they've been the pinnacle of rock amplification ever since.

Honorable mentions: Mesa-Boogie MK IIC+, Modified Marshalls, Soldano SLO
Subgenres: Thrash, Hair Metal, NWOBHM

As metal took its next evolutionary step into early '80s thrash metal, players needed more gain—and a faster response than the older amps could provide. Once again, Marshall was there to answer the call with what is now one of the most revered rock 'n' roll amps in history, the JCM watt head.

Take a look at early pictures of any of the big four thrash bands (Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer). You're all but guaranteed to see multiple of these hard-rock icons resting proudly on their walls of full stacks. In fact, Slayer's Kerry King swears by his signature JCM s to this very day.

But thrash wasn't the only ones to lean on these amps. The hair metal scene also embraced the models with equal fervor. From the amp's most famous evangelists, Zakk Wylde, Mötley Crüe's Mick Mars, and Ratt's Warren DeMartini, there wasn't a backline on the Sunset Strip that wasn't dominated by Marshall's reigning champion.

Honorable mentions:Randall RG series, Peavey Bandit
Subgenres: Nu-Metal, Death Metal, Djent

Death - "Spirit Crusher," Live in Eindhoven

While solid-state guitar amps were never the signature voice of an entire genre, they are a style of high-gain amp that has made their presence known time and time again. And it's arguably the Marshall Valvestate watt head that has carved out the most significant legacy of any non-tube design.

When you combine its use by Chuck Schuldiner of Death, Meshuggah's tone on their groundbreaking early albums, and the massive success Static-X's driven Wisconsin Death Trip, inexpensive or not, there aren't many other amps that can live up to the 's resume.

But of course, the isn't the only solid-state amp to carve out a niche for itself. The singular sound of Dimebag Darrell's Randall RG series amps is seared into every metalhead's mind. And it was Peavey's underrated Bandit combo that supplied the buzzsaw tones of Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse.

Honorable mentions: None. It was Rectifiers or nothing.
Subgenres: Nu-Metal, Death Metal, Metalcore

Korn - "Blind," Live at Woodstock '99

While many subgenres of metal can be criticized for burying the low end in the mix, the low-end groove of nu metal's heyday was at the very core of its popularity. And it wouldn't have achieved that signature sound without the Mesa-Boogie Dual and Triple Rectifier amps.

It was their ability to handle Korn's paradigm-shifting use of down-tuned 7-string guitars where these amps came to the head of the pack. Soon, it was as if there were no other amps on the market. Every nu-metal band out there was playing Randall Smith's flagship designs.

Yet to classify them as only a nu-metal amp would be to do a mighty disservice. These amps continue to be a popular choice for a wide variety of players, from the pulverizing death metal of Cannibal Corpse to Mark Tremonti's work in Alter Bridge, Creed, and Tremonti.

Honorable mentions:Peavey series, EVH III series
Subgenres: Djent, Death Metal, Metalcore, Thrash, Black Metal

Machinehead - "Davidian"

Eventually, nu-metal waned and technique-driven metal guitarists craved the gain of the Mesas but with a tighter, faster response. And it was Peavey and Eddie Van Halen that had inadvertently stepped up to the plate with the The head's signature midrange, tactile gain, and tight bottom-end sit perfectly in a chaotic metal track and have made it the go-to amp for countless death metal, metalcore, and thrash bands.

But as most guitarists know, Eddie eventually moved on from Peavey and released the newly designed III under his own brand, EVH. Not only did his new amps present metal diehards with an equally inspiring voice in the same tonal vein as the original s, but Peavey carried their designs on, rebranded as the line.

Today, both of these amp lines continue to be at the forefront of high-gain amplification.

Honorable mentions:Matamp GT, Sunn Beta Lead, Sunn Model T, Ampeg V-4
Subgenres: Doom, Stoner Rock, Sludge, Post Metal, Thrash, Nu Metal, Nordic Death Metal

Bored of the overly processed and produced metal albums, doom, sludge, and post metal bands are stripping their rigs back to old school and simple amps that are really f'n loud!

While a vintage Orange OR is a prime example of a holy grail doom metal amp, it is only one of a few sludgy classics. The qualifications for an amp to be embraced by these bands are simple. Offer an ungodly loud, clean pedal platform and/or have an equally loud high-gain voice that's an experience you'll feel as much as hear.

Honorable mentions:Kemper Profiler, Line 6 Helix, Positive Grid Bias
Subgenres: Djent, Progressive Metal

Mark Holcomb on Gain Settings with Fractal Audio Axe FXII

Amp modeling has been around for decades. But where the digital side of amplification really got its foot in the door was with djent and modern prog metal bands, such as Meshuggah, Periphery, and Animals as Leaders.

This new generation of technically advanced players horde systems like the Axe-Fx, Kemper Profiler, and Line 6 Helix. But it's not just these bands loading their racks with modelers. Their infinite tonal possibilities, unmatched convenience, and tones that give any tube amp a run for its money are responsible for a growing wave of guitarists throughout music ditching their tube rigs for these digital alternatives.

There are as many amps out there today as there are metal subgenres. So keep in mind, this list is far from gospel. But these amps that defined a genre, sound, or style of playing. So forgive us if we didn't include the one you love most. But trust us, if you want to grind it out in any of these subgenres, these amps are the best in the business.

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How to get evil black metal guitar tone from YOUR amp

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