The 4 Best Metalcore Pedals on the Market – Reviews 2023

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Photo by René Stalder / CC BY

Finding the right metalcore pedal isn’t the simplest process. After all, it takes a special kind of distortion pedal to handle the heavy, fast riffs played by a good metalcore guitarist. Even though the tempos tend a bit slower than in genres like thrash metal, you still need effects that won’t muddy your sound or lose the percussive edge to your attacks.

A distortion pedal is one of the most important aspects of a metal guitarist’s tone. The problem is there are so many different distortion pedals out there, and figuring out which ones are the best for your style can be a bit of a slog. While there’s no hard and fast rules about which pedals are right for which genres, the ones reviewed below are all great for metalcore. Reading through them will at least help you get started—and you might just find the key to unlocking your ideal tone.

These are our recommendations for the 4 best metalcore pedals on the market:

Metalcore Pedal 1: Fulltone OCD

The Fulltone OCD has been showing up on pedalboards across genres since its inception in 2004. Its versatile tone is what makes it so popular. It gives you a tuneful grit that has a lot of gain without losing its tone. The simple three-knob sound shaping options give you just enough to tweak the effect to suit your style.

This is the most recent iteration of the OCD pedal. The actual sound doesn’t differ from the original, but it does include highpass and lowpass filters to help refine your tone. If you’re looking for a classic distortion that can be made to suit any sound, the OCD is the ideal pedal for you.

Fulltone OCD Overdrive Distortion Pedal - Thursday Gear Videos

Metalcore Pedal 2: Death by Audio Apocalypse Distortion and Fuzz

If you’re looking for serious distortion, the Apocalypse Distortion and Fuzz pedal from Death by Audio should be at the top of your list. It includes five separate distortion circuits, varying in intensity from relatively subtle to down right explosive. Whatever style of metal you play, this pedal (see full specs) has a fuzz that will work for you.

The main caveat is that this could be a pricey pedal (price fluctuations do happen, though). The number of distortion options it includes can justify the price if you like to experiment with effects, but a lot of players will find it simply out of their price range. The other thing to note is that it’s pretty big. It can replace multiple distortion pedals so this might not be an issue, but it’s something to be aware of if your pedalboard’s already cramped.

Death By Audio Apocalypse

Metalcore Pedal 3: Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

Here’s another one that’s a classic among metal guitarists. It’s a stand-out for its size. It’s one of the only mini pedals you’ll find that has all-analog circuitry, giving you the natural distortion you’d expect from a boutique pedal. The fact that you can get it for a great low price is what’s made the Ibanez Tube Screamer such a perennial favorite.

You’ll get the standard overdrive, tone, and level controls on this stompbox, along with a true bypass for your signal. All the components are solid and well-made, with a smooth action on the knobs that makes it easy to adjust your tone. You’ll love the feel and the sound you get from this classic, and as an extra bonus it’ll fit easily into your rig. This is without doubt one of the best metalcore pedals for the money.

Ibanez Tube Screamer MINI Review! SMALL BUT DEADLY!

Metalcore Pedal 4: TC Electronic Dark Matter

If you’re looking for something that’s more in the budget price range, TC Electronic has you covered with their Dark Matter distortion pedal. It’s a compact little stompbox with a big sound that belies its small size and price tag. Most importantly, it can give you a nice full range of distortion options, with a voicing switch that’s great for boosting your low end.

One thing we really like about the Dark Matter is the inclusion of a 2-band EQ. This gives you even more power to shape your sound, letting you get a deep bassy distortion or a high screaming crunch out of the same pedal. The knobs are sensitive and make it easy to dial in on the right sound. With the TC Electronic Dark Matter you get full control over your distortion at an excellent value.

Dark Matter Distortion - Official Product Video

So What’s the Best Metalcore Pedal?

There’s no one right answer to that question. Which effect you use is a very personal choice, influenced by the gear you use and your particular playing style, not just by what genre you’re playing in. Any of these pedals could be the right one for your set-up.

When it comes to distortion, one big factor will be how well the sound of the pedal’s distortion works with your amp’s natural overdrive. A pedal can sound perfect with one amp can completely clash with another. That’s one reason why the typical advice to listen to the pedals doesn’t always work. If the person who’s demonstrating the pedal is using a different amp, the sound they’re getting might not be an accurate indicator of your experience.

A lot of this advice is aimed at guitarists, but they’re not the only ones who might need pedals. If you’re a bassist, you can still experiment with the pedals above. The only caveat is that they’ll emphasize the treble range of your sound more than the low bass. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Especially in a fast genre like metalcore, a bit of extra treble can keep you from sounding muddy and losing your note definition. A pedal like the TC Electronic Dark Matter (see full specs) that gives you EQ control can be very helpful in getting a powerful, punchy distortion that’s not thin in the low end.

If you have a well-stocked music store nearby, going to try out a few pedals is a great idea. Even if they don’t have the particular ones you’re looking for, you’ll at least get a sense of how different types of circuit sound with your equipment. Keep in mind that most of these pedals offer a lot of customization options, too. Even if the effect doesn’t sound quite right out of the box, don’t give up immediately. You might find it’s perfect after you spend some time tweaking the settings.

Like we said at the beginning, all four of these pedals are great places to start if you want to get a great metalcore sound. Each, in its own way, can qualify as the best metalcore pedal. Good luck in your search!

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

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