When it comes to death metal, getting the right sound is crucial if you want to be taken seriously. That means that the amp you use is extremely important to be able to get the right sound.
Since death metal is characterized by its aggressive, in-your-face distortion, your amp needs to be able to pull off that sound perfectly.
3 Best Amps for Death Metal
Even though the Peavey 6505 wasn’t originally intended as a metal amp, it does metal so well that it was quickly adopted by many metal bands.
The Mini Head is the same feature and sound-rich amp as the bigger 6505 version, just in a much more portable package.
The sound this amp produces is very fat, aggressive, and loud. It is certainly among the louder 20-watt amps I have ever played. Switching to the lead channel, the sound becomes thicker and really cuts through the mix.
The 6505 also has an attenuation switch to take it down to 5 and even 1-watt. At 5-watts, the amp managed to roar and scream without losing any sound quality. At 1-watt the amp is also still pretty loud, but to me, this is more of a practice setting rather than a gig setting.
Another use for the attenuation, other than power output, would be tone control. The amp does become quite saturated at higher volumes and 20-watts. Pulling back to 5-watt, I found the sound to tighten and clean up a bit and I no longer noticed the saturation at high volumes.
The amp also features built-in reverb. It is a digital, plate-style reverb and isn’t the best I have ever heard. Playing death metal, you aren’t likely to use a whole lot of reverb anyway. But it is a nice feature of the amp even if it isn’t the most amazing reverb around.
The 6505 also features Tube Status Indication (T.S.I.) which shows you that your tubes are still in good health and when they need to be replaced. This is such a small feature, but one that I always appreciate. It takes away the guesswork sometimes involved in figuring out when tubes need to be replaced.
As far as death metal goes, I think the 6505 does exactly what it needs to. It is loud, aggressive, and in your face. For chugging riffs, that is really all you need.
2. Orange TH30H
Orange amps are more known for their vintage sound, but there are plenty of modern metal bands that use them to great effect.
These iconic amps are known for their bright high-end and big, round bottom-end with enough barking midrange to spare. The TH30H is no different and embodies the signature Orange sound perfectly.
The TH30H also covers a wide spectrum of different sounding gains. These are all accessed with the simple turn of the shape control on the amp.
Dialing in a more modern metal sound does take some finessing. There is no EQ control on the dirty channel. So, I put an EQ pedal in front of the amp just to be able to shape the tone a bit more.
I had to do a bit of tone sculpting to get it to a point where I felt it was a modern metal sound. Once I did get it there, it sounded absolutely amazing.
I was able to get a very tight, yet thick and aggressive sound from the TH30H. As I mentioned, the shape control alone covers a large spectrum of sounds. If you are looking for a muddier or a more scooped sound, the option is there with a simple turn of the knob.
The other issue I had was with the balancing. The clean and the gain channels are somewhat out of sync in terms of volume. If the clean was on 5 for example, I would have to set the dirty channel to around 7 for it to be matched with the clean.
I would also have to dial in the tone and gain again to get it sounding right. This means that switching between channels isn’t a very smooth operation. For death metal, the clean channel isn’t used all too often and shouldn’t be an issue, but it is something to keep in mind.
3. Revv G20
Revv has been making high-quality, high-performance amps for years. They have now taken that same level of quality and performance and put it into a lightweight, portable little amp: the Revv G20.
This amp sounds incredible pretty much right out of the box. I just made some slight adjustments to the treble and the bass before I got a wonderful metal distortion.
The G20 growls and snarls fantastically, even before activating one of the two aggression modes. Once you press that button, turning it blue, the distortion gets a bit more attitude and bite.
Pressing the button again to turn it red activates the second aggression mode. This mode is just more attitude and bite than the first. It is a subtle, but definitely noticeable change from the standard distortion that just gives it that extra edge.
Even the amp’s clean sounds great. It has a very smooth and warm clean sound.
This is before activating one of the six virtual cabinets on the G20. These let the amp simulate what it would sound like going through different amps. These virtual amps can of course be swapped out using the Torpedo app as well as customized.
This not only makes the G20 extremely versatile but also means that you could essentially take just the amp to a gig or studio and be good to go. Since the amp can connect directly to an audio interface or desk, it can be played directly through a DAW like Pro Tools and front of house.
It also helps that the G20 is loud, very loud. For a 20-watt, this amp packs quite the punch. Even in 4-watt mode, the G20 is still pretty loud when you crank the volume. You do lose out on some of the dynamics and this mode is more for practice than gigs.
Overall, this is one of the best amps out there and there aren’t any real downsides. Even the packaging and presentation is great.
Distortion, Distortion, and Distortion
Unless you are playing in a more progressive death metal band, the odds are you are rarely, if ever, going to use the clean channel of an amp. That means that you can pretty much ignore the clean and focus solely on the gain channel.
The reason for this is that you want to get an amp that has the perfect distortion sound. Distortion is a fundamental part of the death metal sound and a bad distortion can often make or break a song.
I can’t count how many times I have turned off a song or been put off of a band just because their distortion didn’t sound good. So, make sure you are getting the best possible distortion sound from the amp you are buying.
Dialing in the Tone
While distortion is very important to death metal sound, I have often found that the standard distortion isn’t always right.
While the standard distortion sound can be good for thrash, I usually have to dial in a death metal tone. Simply adjusting the gain doesn’t really work. You need a 2-band, but preferably 3-band, EQ on your amp to help you get the tone perfect.
It is often just those fine adjustments that you need to make to get the sound right and an EQ is the best way to do that.
While an amp with a good distortion can be enough for a great death metal sound, you might want to add a pedal to enhance your sound. You can easily add pedals to most amps if you choose to.
What I would recommend is using certain pedals instead of the onboard effects of amps. Things like reverb, delay, etc. can sound good, but they will almost always sound better coming from a pedal.
So, I would suggest investing in a few good pedals if you also want to add effects on top of the amp’s distortion.
If you are looking for an amp that has the perfect death metal sound, then look no further than the three amps on this list. They are some of the best amps for death metal available today.