[review] OGRE Thunderclap Distortion (by Bieke)

OGRE Thunderclap

For those who have not heard about OGRE pedals, well you came to the right place. OGRE is a new pedal and guitar manufacturer, a subdivision of Hankuk Precision Co. Ltd. and is operating out of South Korea.

OGRE pedals were released in Korea about half a year ago and also made an appearance at NAMM earlier this year, and OGRE will also be on display at the Frankfurt Musikmesse next month. Eungsoo Lee is the chief designer for OGRE and he's a songwriter/musician as well.

As for effects, so far OGRE have released 2 models, an overdrive (the Tubeholic) and a distortion, and there's one more pedal in the pipeline, a delay. Really anxious to hear more about that Kronomaster delay, especially since I noticed that Eungsoo is a fan of the Roland Space Echo ...

Anyway, lets have a look at the Thunderclap distortion...

OGRE ThunderclapThe looks

Well, it is all a matter of personal taste. But there is no way around it, it looks spectacular, it has this skull & bones theme, also horns, two big ones and 4 smaller ones, 2 piercing blue status LEDs are watching you when you step on the lower jawbone to engage the pedal. The 4 smaller horns on the forehead are in fact controls for volume, bass, treble and gain. If you look up close, the horns are marked with V, B, T and G.

It feels a bit strange to be turning horns on a pedal, and it also takes a while to become familiar with the settings, from the orientation and angle of the horn tips, you can get a rough feeling of the settings, I still prefer knobs with markers for easy reference, but this is also fun, and different to say the least. Also, these controls seem to hold up well and have a solid feel.

The casing is a die cast aluminium, with a nice 3D effect and with great attention for detail a and finishing, quite an ingenious design. The Thunderclap is available in different colors, gray (stained aluminium), yellow, red and green (the yellow one looks really cool).

Bottom plate has an easy access battery compartment, in and outputs are on the top (of the skull), with the 9V DC power socket, a bit recessed in the skull. For that reason, you get a straight angle power connector with the pedal, so that you can power it without interfering with your patch cables.

Also, a lot of detail went into packaging and presentation of the OGRE pedals, it all looks very classy and prestigious. I have even seen that some pedals come with a miniature skull, same shape as the pedal, but then as a necklace.

So the Thunderclap appears to be directed towards the metal player? It sure has a satanic theme going.

Is it the ultimate Doom pedal? Well, read on.

OGRE ThunderclapThe sounds

Yeah, I couldn't help thinking that it is a straight up pedal for the heavier player out there, particularly the skull and bones and goats (those horns) worship players. Well, I only just found out there is a goat metal genre. I am going to listen to some of that later on. But now without further ado, the Thunderclap sounds like... I am curious about this myself, so I need to build up some suspense here, as I flick the bypass switch on my amp, set the horns to errrr, well half way up, engage the Thunderclap, slowly moving away from the pedal and amp, assuming a ready to rock position and I'm all set to roll up the volume on my guitar... here we go!

Or wait, one more thing, I have a confession to make. I actually don't like distortion pedals that much. I've been through a lot of them, the usual suspects, Big Muffs, RATs, Dist+, DS-1, the one that stayed the longest have been the RAT and a vintage TC Electronic Distortion/Booster Line Driver. The latter one has been my mainstay distortion pedal for the past 10 years or so. But I actually prefer to stack an overdrive with a booster or another overdrive or even a fuzz pedal to get my preferred distortion sound. Just so you know that I'm very picky about distortions.

OK, where were we? Ah yes, the OGRE Thunderclap distortion, what does it sound like?

My initial impression is (I anticipated I would be disgusted by the sound of this pedal) one of surprise. It sounds surprisingly decent. Not half as bad as I thought it would be, or let me rephrase that bit, half as good as it gets. So with all the knobs (horns!) set to noon, I'm hearing a medium gain distortion sound, with a pinch of higher frequencies added and a really, really sensible amount of distortion, not too crunchy, not too rattling, not too oversaturated.

Turning the gain down gives a breathy, soft distortion sound, very pleasant distortion, useful sound, for classic rock rhythm, dialing in more gain gets a British distortion sound, add more gain gets a crunchy distortion, then past noon it moves into American distortion, further up I'm hearing that raunchy LA Woman tone, and there's not much gain left but finally it reaches metal territory. Overall, a nice distortion range, from soft to hard distortion, not the extreme, just making it into chugga chugga razorsharp metal distortion zone. Hmmm, it would probably go beyond that if stacked with a booster or another overdrive...

Fiddling with the tone controls, well, as with most distortion pedals, the Thunderclap gets rid of some of the lower frequencies and with the bass control, you can dial in a little more bottom end, but counter clockwise, the higher frequencies creep back in. The treble control adds more treble, some odd harmonics, it also acts a bit like the filter control on the Rat pedal, so it adds a lot of bite, adds sustain as well, pinched harmonics are easily obtained and it even starts to feedback with a little more volume.

The volume control at noon is slightly above unity gain, so it has plenty of volume left, a fairly loud pedal, not totally silent at higher volumes, but not producing an annoying noise level either. It is a true bypass pedal by the way.

OGRE ThunderclapThe verdict

Looks can be deceiving.

The OGRE Thunderclap is a versatile and musical distortion, capable of a wide range of useful distortion sounds, and not really as extreme and harsh sounding as I figured it would be.

Just a great distortion unit for rocking out. For me, it had a great palette of useful distortion sounds, a decent EQ section, leaning towards the treble side, great volume kick on tap.

All in all, an extremely controllable distortion pedal.

Anyway, I'm going to listen to some goat metal now.

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