Boss ML-2 Metal Core

With all the cross-pollination of styles flapping around these days, it’s sometimes hard to determine whether metal is typified by a specific distortion sound—or even if sound alone identifies any genre anymore. Boss is still comfortable marketing this distortion box as the Metal Core ($163 retail/$99 street), but the company packs it with just enough tonal diversity to tread several sub-sets within the heavy-rock genre.
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The ML-2’s construction is of the same quality that has graced Boss’ Compact Pedal Series for years—meaning it’s built to take road abuse, houses the battery under the treadle for easy access, offers a pretty studly level boost, and assigns operations to sturdy knobs. The Low and High controls deliver aggressive boosts that produce bombastic bass and searing treble, as well as cuts that readily diminish mud and sizzle. As far as distortion goes, the ML-2 starts heavy, but with the Dist knob at Min (and the High knob at around a 10 o’clock “cut”), you can craft a reasonable blues-rock impersonation of a live, Paul Kossoff-through-howling-Marshall tone. From there, the distortion uncorks more compressed, buzzy sustain (like stereotypical ’80s prog-rock and fusion timbres) until the roar is so over-the-top at the Max setting that it almost feeds back sans amp. Way cool. I view this pedal as more of a singing, go-for-Gilmour device that works for soaring solos and aggro riffs. If that’s your metal, then great, but I’m using the ML-2 for everything but.

Aggressive, but relatively malleable distortion tones.


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