Rating: 5 / 5
(Version reviewed: 1.0)
The Boss HM2 – Heavy Metal Pedal was not designed for one specific purpose and in fact, when it came out, not a lot of people enjoyed it. Then one day a Swedish guitarist bought one and the rest is history. The HM2 then became the voice of an entire genre known as Swedish Death Metal. I don’t mean the more melodic In Flames, Soilwork, Darkane sound from Gothenburg, I mean the Swedish Buzz Saw that was born in Stockholm with bands like Entombed, Dismember, Nihilist and At The Gates (even though ATG didn’t always use the HM2). A bit later Bloodbath, LIK, Crematory and others embraced the raw and powerful sound.
Audiority is an Italian based company doing incredible things in the plugin universe. Many for guitarists and many general purpose. I was very excited to hear that such a talented developer was tackling the HM2
It looks just like a real HM2! Audiority always put a good effort into the looks, graphics and GUI, all of which in this case are once again stellar, smoother and easy to use. In addition to the pedals settings, you also get a nice selection of switchable internal mods that are based on many of the mods done to the HM2 over the years.
The Swedish Buzzsaw tone usually requires a clean or very slightly dirty tone to work with. Using the pedal on a distorted channel is fine if you like feedback and lots of noise. Either way, you’ll need to use a noise gate plugin when using the Heavy Pedal and they knew this so guess what? Audiority included a noise suppressor in the plugin! I found with certain sounds I needed a bit more of a gate so if you don’t have one, head out in search of one. There are a few very nice free gates out there but usually, your DAW should have one of it’s own. Put the gate at the start of your signal chain. YouTube has plenty of noise gate tutorials if you aren’t familiar with how they work. It’s very easy. The onboard suppressor works by left clicking over it and dragging up or down, the same works for the input, output and mix functions.
Traditionally, the HM2 is used with all the knobs dimed (turned up all the way) and this plugin sounds every bit as visceral as the real thing with just those settings. I can’t believe how good this pedal sounds and I’d risk saying I like it better than the real thing. The detail and realism in this plugin are on another level which doesn’t shock me considering everything I have tested from Audiority in the past has been stellar.
This is the first time Audiority has included a selection of mods with a pedal plugin but after speaking with the developer about it, he tells me that the other pedalboard distortions plugins could get the same treatment in an update eventually. The mods / circuit types in this case are all very useful and add a ton of ways to shape the beast into a mix. I had amazing luck dual tracking two tones using two different mods on the pedal. Doing this kept the signature tone as it was but changed things just enough to create a more full and saturated tone.
You can also use the HM2 like a boost with a distorted tone. I created a few really raunchy death n roll tones using the Heavy Pedal with a fully driven Marshall amp sim. Just back the pedal gain off to 1-2 and leave everything else basically the same but watch the “high” knob and how it relates to your amp sim’s treble and presence controls. I really liked the raw tone this created. I ended up with a nice rock tone with an HM2 edge to it. The Heavy Pedal does all of this easily.
I have actually wondered why doom / stoner bands have never embraced the HM2’s capabilities given the genre’s embrace of the Boss Hyper Fuzz. In recent years that has changed as some bands in the doom metal world have reached for the HM2. I ran the Audiority Heavy Pedal with the Black Rooster Audio Cypress TT-15 and the Nembrini Audio MRH810 in search of doom tones and they sure weren’t hard to find. Doom tones are all about the mids so it’s a match made in heaven.
Remember, harnessing the main buzzsaw HM2 tone is all about using the amp to shape the pedal’s abrasive and cutting character since the knobs are all at max. With other applications you can use the amp and pedal together together to dial things but with the traditional settings, changing the tone becomes more about changing settings, amps, cabinets and post effects.
UPS / DOWNS:
There’s literally not one down side to this plugin if you into the HM2. It’s not a sound for everyone but for those out there that love the original, get this plugin because I can assure you, it won’t let you down. The quality comes from the realism, detail and the developer going the extra mile to ensure that the plugin did the legendary original justice. Well done Audiority and thank you!
See more – Meet&Greet with the Heavy Pedal