ABOMINABLE ELECTRONICS DEMON LUNG
When Associate Editor Matt Blackett and I plugged in the Demon Lung ($200 direct) for an initial listening test, we were immediately enraptured by its thick, saturated, caterwauling howl. We tweaked nothing, and, in fact, the Demon Lung’s controls were set wherever they were when I removed the pedal from its packing materials. Talk about plug and play!
The crazies at Abominable did something, well, crazy to voice this fuzz, venturing into simulating—and evolving—what they say is the “never-before-cloned” Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz (1993-1997) used by Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee and others. The true-bypass Demon Lung offers the FZ-2’s two fuzz modes (meaty and sizzling), but moved them to a much more live-performance-practical footswitch (with two bright LEDs that alert you to which mode is active), rather than the original’s knob control. Abominable’s other enhancements include a clean-signal blend, a diode-clipping switch (choose between stock silicon or Russian Klon germanium diodes), and a monstrously colorful hand-painted chassis.
Visually and sonically, the Demon Lung is a stellar addition to the pedalboard of any fuzz freak. If you constantly futz with knobs, however, the Clean and Gain controls are subtle to the point of imperceptible—though Highs and Lows provide good frequency impact. But Matt had the killer app for this pedal: “Turn everything up to 10 and rock!” Trust me, you won’t go wrong with that approach, as the Demon Lung is a blissfully evil-sounding fuzz.
Kudos Awesome aggro fuzz no matter where you set the controls.
Concerns Subtle sonic options.
ELECTRO-HARMONIX MEL9 TAPE REPLAY MACHINE
Ever since being captivated by the Mellotron on Beatles albums, I’ve driven my keyboardplaying friends insane by relentlessly pleading with them to bring their Mellotron sound libraries to recording sessions. They may have breathed sighs of relief in 2015, when Electro-Harmonix released its C9 Organ Machine with a single—and frustratingly beguiling—Mello Flutes patch. But this only made me more fanatical, and I leveled my crazed requests at the EH crew: “Okay, when will you give me a 100-percent Mellotron pedal?” Of course, those crafty EH peeps already had the Mel9 ($221 street) in development, and, now, one of my foremost gear dreams is a reality.
While keyboardists still get the lion’s share of Mellotron-tape sounds on their devices—along with more parameter control—the Mel9 offers a massive advantage to guitarists looking to not only evoke the Beatles era, but also add eerie and otherworldly timbres to their musical armory. The nine sounds—Orchestra, Cello, Strings, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Brass, Low Choir, High Choir—are lush, beautiful, and delightfully off-kilter, and you have dedicated controls for Effect Volume and Dry Volume, as well as Attack (for sensual swells or immediate gratification) and Sustain (release time). Those four control knobs are all I need to craft psychedelic textures, cinematic atmospheres, and spooky dreamscapes. If I bring in more of my guitar’s dry sound, I can also produce riffs, licks, and solos with a hint of ear-catching “strangeness”—especially when the buffered-bypass Mel9 is partnered with a distortion, fuzz, or wah pedal. I’ve waited so long for this box ‘o’ sonic joy that I can hardly believe it’s here. Pinch me.
Kudos So wonderful that I cry a few jubilant tears every time I use it.
SEYMOUR DUNCAN KILLING FLOOR HIGH GAIN BOOST
I’m one of those tragic discontents who always need more signal level for solos. So when the Killing Floor ($159 street) calls itself a “high-gain boost,” and means it, man, with a super-generous 34dB of gain—not 10dB, not 20dB—I am so there. One rehearsal proved this true-bypass box is louder than all the trumpets of all the angels and devils. Notes leapt out of my Vox AC30 with clarity, impact, and a muscular punch—which I could tailor further with the Voicing switch (10kHz boost, 4.8kHz cut, or flat). Yeah, the Killing Floor is just a boost, but it’s a ferocious boost. I no longer worry about my solos getting swallowed up by the stage mix. I’ve finally joined the ranks of the contented!
Kudos Loud! Fat! Awesome!