Kirk Hammett's KHDK Electronics unleashes "distinctly amp-like" Dark Blood distortion pedal

KHDK Electronics, the brainchild of Kirk Hammett and David Karon, has unveiled the latest addition to its pedal range: the Dark Blood distortion pedal.

Promising a "distinctly amp-like" drive, with a mid-heavy tone and extra-high gain, the Dark Blood offers a Doom control to adjust pre-distortion EQ, plus a built-in noise gate.

As well as combining solid-state and MOSFET tech, the Dark Blood also packs a treble booster to "push the guitar tone to the limit", courtesy of a canny design from engineer Antonin Salva.

Kirk revealed to Total Guitar that the pedal appeared heavily across the new Metallica album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, and its origins lie in an obscure European pedal…

"It's based on this one pedal I found in Europe," Kirk says. "It's weird, this pedal showed up, I bought it and I never saw another one ever again. I think they only made it for like six months or something.

"So I brought this pedal to Dave [Karon, Kirk's business partner in KHDK] and said, 'Dave, we need to break open this pedal and improve on it.'

If you plug into that pedal it would be hard for you not to just want to instantly rip

"As a result, I have to say, as a lead guitar player, if you plug into that pedal it would be hard for you not to just want to instantly rip. It's one of those pedals that if you plug into it, it just demands that you start playing a guitar solo.

"The way it's voiced it's just a totally over-the-top pedal. Totally unique in its voicing and it's all over the new album. Actually, all the pedals are all over the new album. Except for the Scuzz Box - that wasn't out in time for it to be on the new album. But the first four are."

Kirk is referring to the Ghoul Screamer, No 1 Overdrive and No 2 Boost, which he and David discuss at length in our in-depth interview.

For more Metallica and guitar talk from Kirk and James Hetfield, check out Total Guitar issue 287, on sale 18 November.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.