The Boss HM-2 “Heavy Metal” pedal is one of the legendary pedals in the history of heavy metal. Initially popularized in the late 1980’s and 1990’s by Swedish bands like Entombed, Dismember, and Bloodbath, the pedal has seen a resurgence in the last decade with bands like Trap Them, Black Breath, Nails, and more, using the sound of the HM2 as a cornerstone for creating unique sounding metallic hardcore music.
The pedal, which uses high gain, creates an incredibly heavy, atmospherically distorted tone by sucking out mids and pumping the high and low end of the EQ spectrum. Initially, the early Swedish death metal bands used this pedal to take extreme metal into new dark, yet catchy and rocking, territories. The sound of the HM-2 is so singular, so blunt and to the point, that many of these early records are some of the most lasting in the entire death metal subgenre. In recent years, bands coming from more of a hardcore background have taken the pedal and incorporated elements of D-beat, thrash, black, sludge, and catchy punk song structures.
This new subgenre has been affectionally called “Entombedcore” by Stuff You Will Hate/MetalSucks’s Sergeant D, and has turned out some of the most vital records in the metal underground in the last decade. Many of the younger bands using the HM2 have been recorded and produced by Kurt Ballou, guitarist for Converge and proprietor of GodCity Studio in Salem, Massachusetts. It was only a matter of time before Kurt and one of these bands dove a bit deeper, and talked in-depth about the pedal.
In the below video, Kurt and guitarist Brian Izzi of Trap Them stage the shootout of all pedal shootouts, showing off the full range of the HM-2 pedal and its various clones, reissues, and international variations. In this, we get a taste of the Japanese and Taiwan versions of the pedal, the Hyper Metal HM-3, the Arion Metal Master, the Left Hand Path by Enormous Door, the Left Hand Wrath by Lone Wolf Audio, and Dunwich’s unnamed clone. We also get a peek at one of Kurt’s own custom GCI guitar models. Get your face melted off below: