KHDK Gojira Drive: What is it?
French metallers Gojira are not only beloved the world over for their unique blend of metal styles, from groove-based progressive riffage to death metal guttural screams, but also for their rich and dynamic guitar sound. Now, it would appear that – at least for the last few years – a big part of Joe Duplantier's tone is coming from his signature Gojira Drive pedal, which is brought to you by Metallica shredder-in-chief Kirk Hammett and his sound designing partner in crime, David Karon.
KHDK Electronics has teamed up with many of the leading names in alternative music, with Scott Ian of Anthrax, Matt Heafy of Trivium and Nergal of Behemoth all having their own stompboxes through the company. Their latest collaboration sees the pedal duo team up with the Gojira frontman to bring the world a "natural amp-like overdrive" inspired by Joe's love of complex harmonics.
Featuring a brand-new circuit, this Kaiju of a pedal promises to deliver a monstrous tone that can go way beyond the sound of everyone's favourite French metal band – in fact, KHDK boasts that this overdrive pedal can do everything from "pure raging metal to AM radio sounds" and more.
So without further ado, let's put this pedal to the test and see if it comes out on top as King of the Monsters or if it should retreat back into the sea from whence it came.
KHDK Gojira Drive: Performance and verdict
Before we get into the sounds that are locked away inside the Gojira Drive, we need to first take a minute to discuss its look. Adorned with artwork provided by the insanely talented Dan Kurz – a previous collaborator of KHDK – the Gojira Drive features a crying planet and tree motif that Kurz says "symbolises hope for the future". This ornate design is in keeping with Gojira's appreciation of nature and would most certainly not look out of place among their eclectic album covers.
Our review unit arrived in the limited-edition blue finish, which we think looks absolutely stellar, but we do also think the far more genre-appropriate black option also does the organic artwork justice.
Okay, so it's all well and good for a stompbox to look the part, but how does it sound? Well, in a nutshell, this overdrive pedal sounds fantastic. Now, our initial thoughts after plugging it in and letting rip is that while it's being marketed towards the heavier end of the music spectrum, this isn't an out-and-out doom machine. Truth be told, this is a more organic-sounding drive than many metal-loving players will be expecting.
In reality, this shouldn't be all that surprising as KHDK has stated that Gojira Drive is trying to emulate the natural break up of an amplifier – and well, we absolutely think they've succeeded in that. Of course, we are very aware that "amp-like" has become somewhat of a pedal buzzword in recent years, but we do think it's the best way to describe the tone of this effects unit.
At medium gain settings, the Gojira Drive is exceptionally responsive with a fiercely sharp attack that will cut its way through the densest of mixes. Dropping the volume and increasing the drive results in a sound that would happily become any heavy band's tonal centre.
Where the Gojira Drive really shines, though, is in the EQ department. Coming loaded with both an active bass and treble control, this pedal offers players immense command over their tone. Unlike more traditional tone dials, with the control at 12 o'clock, the frequencies are not affected, while turning the dial clockwise will boost the frequencies, and as you'd expect, counterclockwise will cut. We found that both the bass and treble knobs have rather large ranges meaning it was effortless to drastically change your tone on a whim.
That said, with great power comes great responsibility. As there is so much boost available, it is remarkably easy to go overboard – especially in the high frequencies – resulting in a shrill and piercing tone. However, you could use this to your advantage if you are planning on using the KHDK Gojira Drive as a solo boost – or if you have a particularly dark-sounding electric guitar.
Because of this brilliant tone-shaping ability, we found that the Gojira drive plays particularly well with others, be that a cranked amp or other pedals. In fact, our favourite way to run this KHDK stomp was after a medium gain overdrive – in our case, a JHS Angry Charlie – into a valve amp that's on the edge of break up. We used the Gojira Drive to push the already dirty sound into full-on filth, using the robust EQ to tame the highs and bring a little more body to the low-end.
MusicRadar verdict: This stunningly beautiful, hand-crafted pedal equips tone enthusiasts with a robust set of sonic controls that have the ability to thoroughly transform their sound. The onboard active EQ section means that this 'amp-like' overdrive is a lot more than just another drive pedal, it's a tone-shaping goliath.
KHDK Gojira Drive: Hands-on demos
KHDK Gojira Drive: Specifications
Type: Overdrive pedal
Controls: Drive, Bass, Treble, Volume, bypass
Connectivity: Stereo input, stereo output, USB, power