BOSS HM-2: Like an Ever Flowing Gleam

The BOSS HM-2 Heavy Metal guitar distortion pedal holds a special place in death metal history. It is the sound of Sweden. This cheap, compact design pedal was used heavily at Sunlight Studios to make the “buzzsaw” guitar tone famous on so many original Swedish death metal records from Entombed, Dismember, Nihilist, At the Gates, and Edge of Sanity; later, on scores and scores of not so memorable imitation records.

BOSS HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal

In fact, that’s pretty much all this pedal can do. Dynamics? Forget it. Put all levels on 10, detune, and jam. Of course, there’s some amp EQ details in there somewhere, but forget it. This pedal gets so much worship for such a one-trick pony. My old band mate, Leon del Muerte, is one of those worshippers. He liked the light plate I added to my old Phase 90 and wanted his HM-2 to get the same treatment. Sure, the HM-2 already has a power indicator light, but he wanted it to SHINE like the god he saw it as. I took it from his apartment as he hugged it goodbye and I went to work (2 months later).

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vintage MXR Phase 90 sees the light

The MXR Phase 90 is kind of the benchmark for phasers. It’s been made famous by being THE phaser for Mr. Eddie Van Halen and a score of others. It’s a four stage phaser with matched jfets, meaning in plain talk that it sounds tits. It’s a smooth sounding phaser with a rich tonality. There are many versions since it was first introduced in the 70s: the original script logo version, the first block letter version, the originals with added LED indicator, and then the many re-issues since the Dunlop company bought the rights to the MXR name. The quality of the version, if you go by general opinion, is almost always commensurate with the age.

old script mxr pedals

I was looking for and older one of these, and finally scored a block logo, non-LED version that I’ve dated as being made around 1978. It’s roughly the same kind Mr. Van Halen likely used. This is one of the “good ones.” I can definitely vouch for the sound, being that my Phase 90 sounds amazing on bass or guitar.

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