Price paid: £ 70
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 9
I use this pedal in front of my Peavey 5150's clean channel with gain around 2-5 depending on my tonal choice, with an EQ in front of the guitar, the guitar being a Schecter C-1 Exotic with a SH6 in bridge and SH2N on the neck. With Level maxed, Lows at 3 o clock, Highs at 9 o clock and Distortion in fair amounts, it instantly sounds like the industrial metal band Godflesh. When all the settings maxed, except the distortion again in fair amounts, it is INSTANT buzzsaw Swedish death metal tone, which is pretty much the whole thing is good at in my opinion. With further tweaking, and in front of an amps overdrive/crunch channel, without the settings maxed, like Lows on 1 o clock and Highs around 2 o clock, Distortion at zero, the tone is VERY similar to Bloodbath's "Nightmares Made Flesh", "The Fathomless Mastery", and with a little bit tweaking it's instantly the Hail Of Bullets tone, which is a band that I also love very much. However, if you decide to use an EQ pedal, by cutting down the low frequencies below 150hz in order to tighten it up, and cranking up the midrange a little bit, with the pedal settings Low around 12 o clock, Highs around 12-1 o clock, and again with fair amount of distortion, the tone is spot on Dark Tranquillity's "The Gallery", "The Minds Eye", and In Flames' "Jester Race" and "Whoracle" guitar tones. No wonder why almost every Gothenburg death metal bands' albums that came out of Studio Fredman had this trademark guitar tone in their early days. Beware of the feedback though, it's pretty much uncontrollable without a noise gate if you're going for the buzzsaw Stockholm sound. Overall, I bought this pedal with the expectation of the tones I described, and happily succeeded. I doubt that it would be useful for other styles, maybe Stoner/Doom to some extent, but definitely not suitable for modern metal/metalcore and classic rock/hard rock.
Overall Impression — 9
I had been playing guitar for almost 3 years, and I do lack lead guitar skills. I wish that I knew I wouldn't be needing for an external EQ pedal for further tweaking, but hey, it does take a lot of tweaking to get the tones in our minds anyways, so its not a big issue. If it was stolen or lost, I would definitely buy this pedal again, it's definitely a must for a metalhead who likes to play oldschool Swedish death metal, and that nasally sound in all those albums. And that's what I love about this pedal, it is the trademark Sunlight Studios/early Studio Fredman sound, throws me back into the 90's death metal scene easily, although I didn't exist there back then. The only thing I don't like is that the need of an extra EQ pedal for tones other than the trademark buzzsaw tone, and I wish that the knobs were less sensitive, since I'm having problems returning back to the tone I made after tweaking for a while when I don't like it. I first bought the Behringer HM-300 clone, but it sounded very nasal and muddy, much like a HM-3 Hyper Metal pedal, which is not really a good choice for the buzzsaw tone, and pretty useless except when all the controls are cranked. The HM-2 is the key, and has more tonal variety in comparison to the cheapo Behringer clone. All in all, it's a must if you're planning to play/gig/record as an oldschool Swedish death metalhead.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The thing is obviously built like a tank, like all Boss pedals are (and this is the only Boss pedal I have bought in my life, I don't really like their other pedals except the DD3), and I suppose this thing is older than I am, so probably I wouldn't need a backup with me during the gigs.
Ease of Use — 7
I actually bought this pedal after selling my Behringer HM-300 which is a copy of this Boss HM-2. The Behringer sounded very nasal and not really tight, and could not be used for any other tones except the cranked up buzzsaw tone. The HM-2 has 4 controls, Level, Low, High and Distortion. The controls are very touchy and sensitive, small adjustments make huge differences on this pedal. I bought it used, and it's definitely from the 80's, runs with either a 9V battery or a 12V adapter, I use my Voodoo Labs Pedal Power for juice, in the 12V setting. I don't have a manual for this, but since I've bought it for the "buzzsaw" Swedish death metal sound, I did not really need a manual anyways. Though if you're searching for other tones than the maxed buzzsaw tone, it will take a lot of tweaking, preferably with an EQ pedal next, especially for the early Gothenburg style melodic death metal tones. (aside from the oldschool pure evil death metal bands like Dismember, Carnage, Entombed, Unleashed etc, the guys in Gothenburg like In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Eucharist and At The Gates used this pedal in their early days, before DT and IF headed off to 5150's).