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Looks like we've got another entry from Rocktron's Boutique line of stompboxes. I reviewed the Sweet Spot fixed wah in an earlier review and was very impressed with the build quality and solid sonics. This time it's the Metal Embrace. The first thing I noticed about the Metal Embrace was it's ironic title. When I think of Metal, I don't typically think of hugs. I mean, I guess folks embrace each other in the Pit but the embracing is probably that of a painful nature. Upon setting up to demo this pedal it became apparent to me that I may be stepping out of my element to give this pedal a proper test as I strapped on my Korean Semi-Hollow body, plugged into the ME and then straight into my Fender Blues Jr. Not an award winning Metal rig, but a nice signal chain nonetheless.
I really like the solid feel of these boutique pedals by Rocktron. The don't feel very vintage to me, but they do feel extremely solid. The knobs are all of some kind of very sturdy metal and when you shake the pedal there is complete silence. Always a good sign. The three knobs up top are Metal Embrace, Symmetry and Level. Below you've got low/high EQ on one combo knob and a sweepable mid-range EQ on the other. All in all a very simple and easy to understand layout. The pedal is true-bypass with standard Hi-Z in and out.
The first thing I did to test was to put all the knobs at dead center and play. I got a really nice heavy distortion tone. Not quite death palm muting territory, but just a nice rich heavy distortion fitting for most hard rock rhythm and solos. By turning the Metal Embrace knob clockwise you get a more and more saturated tone but even at a really modest setting you get a lot of bite. The Symmetry knob affects the shape of the distorted waveform. The intention here is to add extra harmonics to the signal at higher settings. In the short time I've had with the pedal I couldn't notice a huge difference using this knob but I could tell that the overall richness would increase as I turned the knob clockwise. What really made this pedal fun was the inclusion of the hi/lo with sweepable mid EQ that appears to be after the distortion circuit to really shape and craft the overall tone. I had a blast sweeping the mid-range as I would strum a note or chord to dial in various tones suitable for riffs or solos. The EQ sounded really solid for cutting and boosting and extra credit goes to the very musical sweepable mid-range.
Overall, I quite embraced the Metal Embrace with loving arms. Despite its intention for terror, it sounded pretty sweet to me. It reminded me of the Boss Heavy Metal Pedal, but with a boutique signal path and upgraded components. The sweepable mid sounded everything but too honky like the HM Distortion could get in a hurry. It's darn near perfect for what it is. Very specific, just like the Sweet Spot fixed wah. But it does as advertised very well. Cheers. -Gus Green