Purchased from: Jet City Music
Ease of Use — 6
This is the definite draw back of the pedal, as much as I hate to say it, and there are some DEFINITE things that you should know before buying this pedal. BEWARE! This thing is ludicrously loud. Ridiculously. With the volume half way, going from clean to fuzz will result in a monumental volume change that will have any sound technician who's mic'd you up have a fit. You can turn the volume down, but it degrades the sound quality substantially. Oh, and it responds very differently to different amps. I use it through a Blackstar HT Stage 60, which has a British and American clean channel. Through the British, it sounds much more, well, British. Less extreme, and the volume change isn't as harsh. Through the American sounds much more extreme, saturated, and the volume change is huge.
Secondly, touched on before, is the annoyingly complicated Sweepable Frequency Equaliser. The sounds that it sweeps through are in an odd order, and do not follow linearly, so it may be difficult to dial in a particular tone. The five circuit aspect makes this more difficult. There's a lot of aspects you need to get to grips with before this pedal will sound decent. But by golly, It's worth getting to know.
Sound — 8
For those of you who aren't familiar with Death By Audio, their pedal range is effectively just the most crazy, awesome, disgusting, weird and intriguing pedal range around, and I mean all of that in a good way. The ethos of their pedal range - in general - fits the ideals that I have when I create music. Unusual, innovative and unique. The Apocalypse is definitely that. The Apocalypse if five fuzz pedals in one, all with their unique twists and quirks.
On a scale of weirdness (1 being their relatively vanilla Fuzz War and and 10 being their why-would-you-ever-make-this Soundwave Breakdown), the Apocalypse is around about 7 - and thats part of the beauty of it. You can get a fairly Muffy (yet awesome) standard fuzz tone, or you can play with the settings to get weird and wacky noises. But I digress. (in fact, I used to be a professional digresser...)
The settings on this are deceptively complicated, and it does take a while to get the knack of getting a decent sound out of it. You have four controls:
Volume: I hope I don't have to tell you what this does
Gain: Again, straight forward, more "balls-out" than a Big Muff
Sweepable Frequency Equaliser: heres where it gets complicated. This is not a straight forward bass-treble tone control. It dials through all different variations of tones including wooly bass, scoops, mid boosts, pointy treble...
Fuzz Circuit Selector: These go through the five different fuzz circuits: Scoup, Ganiac, Square Wave, Octavious, Wave-form shifter.
A brief description of each:
Scoup: An extremely scooped fuzz tone. I'll be honest, its the one I use least. The fuzz/scoup thing doesn't work for me.
Gainiac: This is your bread-and-butter, Jack White, thick, juicy fuzz tone. Warm and full - very Russian Muff
Square Wave: A much more middy, less bassy, slightly slinkier fuzz tone.
Octavious: Getting slightly weirder. An octave fuzz gone mad - sounding like someone has set the gain too high on an octave fuzz, and does so beautifully. Brilliant for garage rock.
Waveform Shifter: Seriously weird. Gain piled on to levels that are beyond extreme. Sounds like static and explosions. Good for adding quirky, lo-fi aspects to songs, but should be used in moderation.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I cannot give this anything but a ten. So impressed with the quality of this pedal. Tough, rigid, good build quality, lovely paint job. I feel that it could easily withstand gig where and door, dropping, and probably some more serious abuse (although I haven't tested fate). It lives on my pedal board, and velcro tape sticks very well to the back. The bit that caught my eye was a little letter that came inside the box that said something along the lines of: Do whatever you want to it. Run it over with a truck, we'll repair it.
Overall Impression — 8
For the style of music that I play (experimental rock and metal) this fits the bill perfectly. I seek out the unusual and weird, as blend them into my music. The great thing about this is that it does standard, garage fuzz tones as well as the weird and wonderful. I've been playing for for seven years now and own a vast array of pedals, amps and guitars. I know my way around guitar sound, and this works on my own as well as in a band - in fact, the rich mids allow it to blend as well as standout in a band setting.
If it were stolen, the only thing that would stop me buying another one is the price... It's undeniably expensive (now at $270, although I live in the UK I needed to order it from the States). But what do you expect for five different fuzzes? I was close to going for the EHX Muff or the DBA Fuzz War, but the features on this just persuaded me to splash.