Empress Heavy Menace

At first glance, the Empress Heavy Menace seems like a pedal that might win the contest for “most tweakable distortion pedal in a compact case.” Also, it looks very cool, notwithstanding its demonic references!

An evolution in compact case of the company’s popular Heavy pedal, the Heavy Menace could be seen as one channel of the original, with an expanded palette due mostly to the new Lite(ish) mode that delivers slightly less heavy tones perfect for old-style hard rock and classic rock.

The other two modes – “Heavy” and “Heavier” – are inherited from the older version of the pedal, which had them next to each other with separate footswitches. It won’t come as a surprise to say that these modes are suitable for genres flirting with extreme distortion and assorted face-melting imagery.

The Weight knob is inherited from the predecessor and sculpts the low-frequency response, and so is the Semi-parametric EQ with sweepable mids, which is really essential to expand the sonic palette of any dirt pedal. The Gate, also present in the Heavy, gains a footswitch. Like in the original, this is a sophisticated circuit that lets sustained notes decay naturally but shuts down quickly during fast stops.

Other than that, it’s all about the tone, which you can check out in the video below.

Empress Heavy Menace, Builder’s Notes

The Heavy Menace is the most versatile distortion pedal we’ve ever created. It’s an evolution of our original Heavy with new features and a compact enclosure.

In addition to the original Heavy and Heavier modes, the Heavy Menace adds a new Lite(ish) mode, covering any high-gain sound from classic hard rock to searing modern metal.

Key Features

  • Three versatile distortion modes – Light(ish), Heavy, and Heavier
  • Footswitchable noise gate
  • Three-band EQ with sweepable mid frequency
  • Weight control to sculpt low frequency response
  • Linked or independent switching of the distortion and gate
  • Gate key input (?” TS or TRS)
  • True bypass or buffered bypass

Other Features

Enhanced EQ
We’re obsessed with EQ, and the 3-band circuit on Heavy Menace is one of our best.

Our Weight control adjusts a high-pass filter in the distortion circuit to shape low-end character. Turn it up for a thick, full sound, or turn counterclockwise for a tight response that’s perfect for palm muting and extended-range guitars.

Midrange is a key element of a great distorted sound, so the mid frequency is sweepable from 200 Hz to 2.5 kHz to dial in the sweet spot for your guitar and amp. Scoop for a tight, aggressive sound, or push to add definition and cut through a mix.

True or Buffered Bypass
The Heavy Menace offers both true bypass for maximum transparency, and buffered bypass to protect against signal loss over long cable runs.

Adaptive Gate
Players loved the gate on the original Heavy. Envelope followers in the circuit respond to your playing, letting sustained notes decay naturally but clamping down quickly during fast stops.

On the Heavy Menace, this gate is now footswitchable, with two available modes of operation. In normal bypass mode, the gate doesn’t affect the signal if the distortion is off, while independent bypass mode is like having separate distortion and gate pedals.

We’ve also added a key input so you can optionally trigger the gate with an external signal. This is particularly useful if you have additional pedals before the Heavy Menace in your signal chain, such as a low-gain pedal for stacking. Split a clean signal with a pedal like our Buffer+ and connect it to the Gate Key Input, and the gate will behave consistently regardless of changes at the main input.