Just when you think you’ve seen everything, along comes Walrus’ The Melee: Wall of Noise, a pedal with a built-in joystick, perfect for guitarists raised on video games. Billed as a combination distortion/reverb unit, the joystick tweaks a variety of ’verb flavors including ambient, octave, and reverse, plus otherworldly effects hitherto unknown to humankind.
Plugged in, the Melee offers a Volume knob that simultaneously increases gain, plus switches for Tone, Decay, and one that feeds distortion into reverb or flips the signal path for reverb into distortion. The joystick determines distortion depth (up and down) vs. reverb mix (left and right). There’s a Bypass button, and you step on it and the Sustain button to jump between reverb types.
Sonically, buckle up and prepare for swishy, haunting, and reversed sounds. For a drier crunch, push the joystick closer to 10 or 11 o’clock, while 1 or 2 o’clock bring on a drenching of wetness. The reverse reverbs are especially intriguing, offering volume-swell sounds from under the sea. The Melee is powerful, so you’ll need to be judicious in dialing up effects, lest your guitar get swallowed by a tidal wave of tone.
While the Melee is a specialty pedal and not for everyone, if you’re a daring sound explorer looking to push the limits, it could become critical to your unique tone.
This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.