6 Essential Artifacts for Doom

Doom is more than just riffs and drugs, it’s about texture, contrast, droning, and ungodly amounts of volume. Many doom players have branched out beyond the Sunn stack and fuzz pedal combo recently, and doom is getting more and more experimental by the day. Bands like Sunn 0))), Ulver and Thou use droning and textural work to great effect in their music. That said, here’s how to get your doom on.

1. Verellen Big Spider

If it comes for Verellen, it's going to be heavy. That's just the rule; I didn't write it. Verellen Amplifiers has long been making the tools of the doomed, and the Big Spider is the only pedal the company makes that isn't a preamp section of one of its amplifiers. Housed in an industrial-strength folded steel enclosure and anchored with two slabs of wood, the pedal definitely fits the Verellen aesthetic. The thing just LOOKS heavy. Thankfully, much like every item in the Verellen line, it is. With the Big Spider, two knobs and two switches are all one needs: Volume and "Ovrdrv" for knobs, and bypass (represented by a triangle waveform) and Tone for footswitches. The Tone switch, as is to be expected—it’s either on or off—isn't any kind of conventional tone control. Instead, much like a Univox Superfuzz's "Tone" slide switch, the Big Spider's switch toggles between two different pedal voicings. The stock setting is a growly octave fuzz but the pedal gets especially doomy with the Ovrdrv knob turned all the way up and the Tone switch engaged. The wall of fuzz that ensues isn't for the weak of heart, but when you're playing for fellow doomheads, this will tickle the eardrums like little else.

2. Mr. Black Supermoon Chrome

One of the staples of doom is filling in all cracks in the wall of sound if at all possible. One thing that does this is a nice reverb pedal. Many reverb types can be completely swallowed by heavy tones. Spring reverb, and even some plates and halls may also be too subtle to have much of an impact. However, the Mr. Black Supermoon Chrome has an absurd decay time built right in. This updated version also contains a wet-dry mix knob, which is crucial to add just the right amount of mortar to a player's proverbial bricks. The modulating decay is a nice touch and fills in the gaps with a nice ambient touch which coincides with many a doom player's aesthetic. Both versions of the Supermoon are wonderful in an effects loop, which is a bonus if that feature is available. Some amps even have an effects loop blend for further fine tuning. However, the modulated reverb running subtly in the background fills the sound out more interesting than most. The key here is "texture" and all doomheads will tell you that texture is key, down to the tiniest detail. The Supermoon Chrome is that detail.

3. Skreddy Echo

The million dollar word with the Skreddy Echo is "headroom," and the pedal has plenty of it. The Skreddy is one of only a few delay pedals that allows the player to run it at 18 volts, thereby increasing the amount of gain it can handle at its input without clipping or farting out. Because most people tend to run delay last in the chain or in an effects loop, this is a boon to doomists. Rare is the doom player that won't run at least one dirt box before the echo or put his or her delay in an effects loop if available. Headroom aside, the Echo sounds really great, especially for this type of music. Its repeats are dark and moody, and the onboard modulation thick and chewy. What’s more, Skreddy is renowned for its build quality and the Echo is packaged in a robust enclosure. That said, no amount of stomping is going to jar anything loose on this beast before most bands call it quits. And speaking of textures, there is nary an effect more textural than an analog (voiced) delay designed to break apart like a real tape echo. Furthering that, the Echo contains an internal effects loop. In a delay pedal, these are used to process other effects externally, so that whatever effect is inserted between send and return processes the repeats only. Each repeat is processed through the loop again and again, with the repeat getting re-processed by the loop until the repeat fades away. For a little extra texture, a doom player might run a phaser for ambience or an octave down for some seriously crushing tone.

4. Mountainking Electronics Megalith

Mountainking Electronics Megalith

I say this with no hyperbole: this fuzz is the destroyer of worlds. It is the meanest, heaviest machine available for purchase today. As its name implies, there is not a guitar-amp combination that the Megalith could not doomify. From single coils, to DeArmond foil pickups, and especially humbuckers, the Megalith chews them all up and spits out a black viscous vile. While the previous standby for heavy fuzz—the Big Muff—has three knobs, the Megalith has six. Of course, one of these is a rotary switch, but that still leaves five knobs: The ubiquitous Output, Input, Slope, Notch and “More Heavy.” The Notch control is directly tied to the rotary with three values to choose from, and More Heavy interacts with the footswitch of the same name. The More Heavy footswitch definitely lives up to its name, adding a thick layer of crunch over anything played through it. What’s interesting about the Megalith is that, while it’s tailor-made for doomheads, it is actually pretty usable for almost any other genre. I own one, and have used it for a variety of genres with great success. However, when skin-searing fuzz is needed, the Megalith fears neither bystander nor player.

5. Ohnoho Blowing Up

To really invoke the wrath of a tube amp, a good boost is required. There is perhaps no louder boost than the Ohnoho Blowing Up. Most boost pedals on the market top out at 40 decibels, and they’re plenty loud. The Blowing Up, however, contains 80 decibels of boost within its walls, which is enough to percussively blast paint from the walls of a practice space. Run before other effects, the Blowing Up will obliterate anything in its path, producing sounds never before heard. And while that’s cool and all, its doomiest application is getting an amp’s tubes in a full nelson and never letting go. 80 decibels is enough to get any tube amp superheated, and undoubtedly the full amount may be a bit much for all but the crustiest doomphiles. This is why Ohnoho has thought to include a gain range toggle, so the boost amount may be dialed back to less octal territory if one wishes.

6. Electro-Harmonix Freeze

It almost goes without saying, but a big part of some of the slower, more deliberate doom bands is droning. And perhaps there is nothing better on the market than the venerable Electro Harmonix Freeze. It’s easy to get caught up in the next big thing, but the Freeze does its thing very well and with the most minimal control set: There’s a knob for effect level and a switch for decay time. That’s it. An interesting, overlooked element of the Freeze is the user’s ability to set the decay time of a frozen note. By setting the toggle switch to a certain position, the frozen decay time is changed if the footswitch is held and the pedal connected to power. With the toggle switch in the down or “latch” position, running the aforementioned process yields 3.2 seconds of decay time, which is perfect for texture work. And with the effect level turned low, this pedal can add an incredible ambience to any quieter part and a real fullness to any heavy part. Used in this manner, it’s an indispensable piece to any doom board.

Clearly, a big part of doom is loudness and air. A fuzz like the Megalith will only sound heavy in one sense when it can push a ton of air. Of course, plugging this exact series of effects into a Pignose battery powered amp will not yield the most satisfactory results. Take these effects into account only if your gear—or gear wishlist—permits.

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