Aria MP-5... Metal Pedal?

Aria MP-5 Metal Pedal

Having liked the Aria CH-5 Chorus so much, I've been on the look out for other pedals from the series. Although, a 'heavy metal distortion' pedal wouldn't usually be anywhere near the top of my wishlist, my experience of 80s 'heavy metal' pedals is such that they don't really sound very metal - a case in point being the Boss HM-2 - so I was willing to take a chance. And it was cheap!

Like the HM-2, it has four controls: Level, Dist (gain), Low and High (EQ) and is more of a moderate gained, slightly fuzzy distortion, whereas a modern heavy metal pedal tends to have insane levels of gain and a tighter distortion quality.
In use, it shares a quirk with the HM-2; the gain control does very little over much of its range. With the MP-5 though, this trait is much more pronounced and there is very little distortion at all until you get to about 9 (assuming a scale of 0-10) on the Dist control. [I show this in the video.] I don't mind this though; this pedal sounds best to me with the gain all the way up.
Gear used:
  • Guitar - Epiphone Casino
  • Recording set-up - Award-Session JD10 as a preamp (DI'd) through a Palmer PDI-09. Recorded to Cubase on PC (via a MOTU audio interface) with no additional processing.
The High and Low tone controls are fairly interactive (and also affect the output level quite drastically), but where I'd say the Low control is usable throughout its entire range - although it does boom all the way up, the High control's usability is more restricted. I'd say its working range is 3-7 (using the 0-10 scale). Boost the treble too much and it sounds harsh and nasty, cut too much and it sounds cheap and lo-fi... although some people could find it useful as an intro/breakdown effect.

So, I'd say this is less a Metal Pedal and more a general fuzzy distortion, best suited to 90s-esque Alt Rock, Shoegaze etc.

In its favour, the MP-5 is very tweakable (thanks mainly to the powerful EQ section) but it should be approached with caution: it is just as easy to get a bad sound out of it as it is a good one.