The Boss Metal Zone hit the market in 1991 as a semi-successor to the Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal, which was produced between 1983 and 1991.
Like the HM-2, it’s designed to emulate a cranked amp stack, with loads of gain on tap. Unlike the HM-2, it has a highly tweakable EQ that was leagues ahead of anything else when it came out.
So why did it fail to land with some players? Internally there are two fixed parts of the signal chain that change the EQ character of the pedal, but for the most part, its failure to impress can perhaps be put down to two prosaic factors.
The first of these is simply that a lot of players don’t know how to use EQ to get the sound in their head – and the powerful, yet complex EQ on the Metal Zone is perhaps too complicated for many players to get to grips with. The second factor at work is that the pedal has, like its predecessor, almost too much gain on tap.
Most usable settings for the MT-2 start at lower gain settings and then up the level depending on the amp. Rarely will you see the gain notch above 12 o’ clock.
Despite being one of the most controversial pedals in the Boss line-up, it has been a commercial success since its initial release, and has been in continuous production ever since.
For every detractor there is a player like Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro, who’s found a great tone with the MT-2 and has just cracked on with it. Even so, it is perhaps a little surprising that Boss chose it as one of their pedals to reissue in an enhanced Waza Craft edition.
Under the influence
BOSS MT-2W Waza METAL ZONE
With a second mode that offers a djenty vibe, the Waza Metal Zone has a drier tone than the original, and is less prone to oscillation with the gain up. The question is not whether this is a worthy heir to the Metal Zone; the question is, as Spinal Tap might have asked, “How much more metal could this be?”. And the answer is none. None more metal.
BOSS HM-3 Hyper Metal
When BOSS came to build the new version of the HM-2, they ended up coming out with quite a different beast. Although the controls on the front panel are the same as those on the HM-2, and the EQ profile sounds similar, that’s where the similarity ends. To Metal Zone owners, on the other hand, the voicing of the pedal will sound familiar.
Amptweaker Tight Metal Junior
Arguably the best metal pedals currently on the market, the Tight Metal ST, Pro and its Jr sibling aren’t only indebted to the Metal Zone for enlarging the metal pedal market and being the gateway pedal for most players. There’s also the matter of their nifty colourway. Now, orange on black, where have we seen that before…?