Guitar Gear Review: My Experience With The Death by Audio Fuzz War

I had my first experience with the Fuzz War from Death by Audio during a long weekend stay in Northern California. The primary goal of this trip was to spend time with good friends and over-indulge in great food and better Absinthe. The tertiary objective was to do a writeup for a Mastodon gig in Chico that has yet to leave my notebook. On the last day of the trip, my battle-buddy Chris and I managed to narrowly survive our personal Vietnam: A little guitar shop hidden amongst the idyllic shops and opportunistic trends of Berkeley.

Berkeley is a strange and foreign place to people like my pal and I – and as such, we had trouble agreeing on what was more questionable: The fact that the whole town was essentially a zoo for well-meaning homeless people, or the atrocities we saw unfolding upon entering the aforementioned (and incredibly well-stocked) music store.

The first things you notice upon entering are the great amps at better prices than anywhere you’ve ever been, the second would be the awful noises (See: “art”) being forced through them. Lastly, you notice the pedals. Then you get an idea… See, in an attempt at nonconformist creativity no one was playing a guitar. The whole store was full of Orange amps, Vintage import guitars, and the kind of pedals most small-town Americans only see on the internet – yet the guitars were coated in dust and patina. Chris and I decided that the only thing capable of correcting this was the power of Heavy Metal.

We grabbed a few pedals and plugged into an Orange that was tucked between a girl playing a violin through a ring modulator and an old Dead-Head (the coolest man in Berkeley), plugged into the Fuzz War, and took turns exchanging riffs (much to the chagrin of the local scene) and I instantly knew that I had to own one.

First and foremost, let me tell you that the Fuzz War is a difficult pedal to accurately describe. It possesses a rich complexity that you can’t quite put your finger on. The best way I can describe it would be to ask you to imagine a Big Muff, ok? Now run that in parallel with a Fuzz Face. Sounds crazy, right? Well…it is – now remove all the feedback bullshit that you inherently suffer when stacking high gain pedals and you have the Fuzz War: A ridiculous box of hate that launches an unstoppable crusade across the entire sonic spectrum of heavy music. It goes from big, bold syrupy mud to sharp, almost early death metal grit and grind all along the wide sweep of the tone knob. On one end of the spectrum it feels like wearing a wool coat, on the other it feels like Brillo Pad underwear – and everywhere in between is pure chaotic bliss rivaling that of an orgy in Caligula’s basement.

Secondly, the amount of gain on top is mind-numbing. It’s like once you start moving past noon on the dial, the pedal just starts throwing fuzz at you.
It’s almost like it gets angry with you and wants to rub your face in the mess you’ve made…the destructive, wooly mess you asked for. Sure, it does low-ish gain fuzz sounds and has vintage-ish characteristics – but push it past it’s limits and you’re in for a suffocating experience. From snappy leads and chords to a droning mess of open strings like something from Davy Jones’ home theater system – I love everything it does.

I guess the last thing I’ll ramble about is that It’s astonishingly loud. Like, practical joke loud. Whether this was an intentional attempt at avoiding the inherent volume drop present in some fuzz boxes or just some hilariously deafening “boost” feature is up for debate in my book – but if you’re the type of cat the NEEDS to be loud…the kind of guy that runs his amp wide-open and says to himself, “Nope. I need a bit more.” or “I want to abuse my amp like a pro-wrestler’s wife.” get this pedal. You can thank me later.