The Boss HM-2 has long been the distortion of choice for death metal types, but can Lone Wolf's take, the Left Hand Wrath, improve on a classic?
Death metal demands tones that cut through. What better, then, than a pedal that makes your guitar grind like a rusty chainsaw ploughing through hapless sacks of flesh and bone?
That's the iconic Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal distortion. The root of the Swedish death-metal tone (Entombed, Dismember, etc), it's also great for grindcore, crust, D-beat and - oddly - 90s shoegaze.
But there's gotta be room to improve on a 30-year-old Boss box, right? Enter Lone Wolf Audio, Texas-based builders of high-end metal-oriented pedals, with its Left Hand Wrath "highly-tuned HM-2", whose level, gain, high and low controls function like the original's four pots.
The Vintage footswitch toggles bypass, while the Modern switch enables the new presence dial for treble focus. Other new adjustments include the midrange level (linked to highs in the original), and a switch to select vintage Japanese diodes (like the original), germanium diodes (smoother), or none (no clipping).
The Left Hand Wrath can sound incredibly close to the original 'MIJ' HM-2, but with less noise, and even distorts in the same disgusting way when fed overly hot signals.
The standout, though, is the presence control - for anyone who's tried to tame the HM-2's unruly harshness, this is a revelation. Horrifyingly good!