Welcome back to Analyzing the Hype, a series in which we look at some coveted pieces of old school gear and we look into why they became so damn popular, and what is out there that can get you some of that sound. Today;  the Boss MT-2 Metal Zone.

Wait, what?

Yes..the Metal Zone.

It’s time we flipped the column on its head and analyzed the negative hype surrounding a piece of gear. There is no better example than the much maligned and hated black box of bees and angst.


The History

Back in 1991, Boss was not doing too well when it came to high gain pedals. The HM-2 (which has had some positive hype, as I discussed in a previous Analyzing The Hype) was not the hot product Boss had anticipated, and the MZ-2 was a terrible misstep in their catalog (it was a distortion with a double tracker. Cool idea, but highly limited appeal).

The MT-2 was their next attempt. Third time’s the charm?

It’s been in production for 25 years and is one of the best selling distortion pedals Boss has made with no end in sight. The MT-2 was quite the upstart on launch: having obscene amounts of gain, 3-band EQ with full parametric mids, and a fair price to boot. But what is so hated about this pedal if it has all that going for it?


Why Is It So Hated?

So, why do we hate it? It’s probably more appropriate in this case, and there are many reasons why..

Let’s start with the EQ.

Now, it may be quite extensive, but boy, oh boy is it fiddly. It’s the kind of EQ that can take you from “bees in the trap” fizzy to “bass music next door” muddy just by looking at it wrong.

Then you get the character of the distortion.. which is rather flat, dull, and artificial sounding. You couple that with the fact that there is way too much of said gain, and you have just a bad sounding distortion box.


The real reason why it is hated is the association of image it has.

The pedal is plagued by the image  of a 13 year-old kid wearing a Slipknot shirt, reeking of body odor, with dirty jeans, playing an entry level BC Rich Warlock through a Metal Zone into a Line 6 Spider.

It’s the go-to pedal of young bedroom metal heads when they start out because it’s “SoO Br00tAlz” and it has the word metal in the name. Not to mention, you can get it from Guitar Center for just $90 or so. That image also reflects a lot of us guitarists when we were younger and starting out, too. It’s a time that we often reflect on with hindsight, asking “what in the ever-loving hell was I thinking?”

(I know, not all of us were BC Rich toting 13 year-olds, but that image is still present in the mind when we see and hear that pedal)

Real World Options

Now here I would typically recommend a clone of the pedal featured, as the originals are hard to find/expensive/ sought after etc…But today, I’m going to recommend the antitheses to the Metal Zone for similar cash.

Firstly, we have the MXR Super Badass Distortion. This pedal comes in a little more than the Metal Zone at $100, but you get a better pedal for that cost. It has a much more natural sounding distortion with a relatively simple and unfussy EQ, which has some great range in the sweep of the controls, but won’t mess everything up if you bump it slightly.

Then, we have the DOD Boneshaker. This is $150, but it’s stupidly versatile. It takes the parametric element that’s on the Metal Zone, but does it properly, giving you both cut/boost and frequency control over treble, middle, and bass. It may be a little too thick and fuzzy for those interested in the tightest of distortions, but for those who want a truly gut punching pedal, this is a good shout.

Lastly, we have the Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion. Yes, a Boss stablemate that proves Boss distortion boxes can certainly be good. It doesn’t have the extensive EQ options, but it does give you both a Drive and Gain Boost control, so you can really dial in the type of gain that you want. It also has a low end boost, so you can really get the bass frequencies in there without compromising your core distortion sound. At $70, it’s a steal.

So there you have it! Although hated on maybe a bit too much, the Metal Zone pedal definitely has its flaws. Keep in mind that practically anything can sound good in a mix, and the Boss Metal Zone has definitely given tons of players tons of gain for little cash.

Check back next week for more Analyzing The Hype!

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This article written by community contributor John Waldock.

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