Guitar.com | All Things Guitar
What happens when Old Blood Noise Endeavors not only captures the lush auditory essence of a band like CHVRCHES, but also manages to come extremely close to encapsulating several distinct genres in a single pedal? You end up with one of the most unique stompbox collaborations in recent years: the Screen Violence, a ‘stereo saturated modulated reverb’ inspired by the album of the same name.
You probably know OBNE as the Oklahoma-based noisemongers behind such magic boxes as the Alpha Haunt fuzz and Dweller multi-modulator; and you might know CHVRCHES as the Glaswegian indietronica giants whose sound is defined more by synths than by guitars. Together, they’ve designed a pedal with modulated reverb on one side and a whole lot of gain on the other.
The Screen side provides the ambient stuff. This features ‘mix’ and ‘screen’ controls, the latter controlling multiple parameters, plus a toggle switch for flipping between two modes: in the up position, the ‘screen’ knob shuffles between delay and a chorus-like modulation; with it down, you can move between three different reverb types – short, medium and long.
Violence serves up the drive, and features three controls – volume, voice and violence (nice use of alliteration there) – plus a gain switch. ‘Voice’ is your tone control, while ‘violence’ adjusts the input gain. Finally, a switch in the middle of the unit lets you change the order of the two effects.
In the age of unboxing, it’s nice to see how much attention has been given to the little things here. The manual includes a few presets that showcase the kind of sounds you can achieve with the Screen Violence, and even doubles as a cool miniature poster.
Exploring the Screen side, we find ourselves immediately enamoured with the tonal quality of the reverb. There are plenty of textures to explore, but above all it really nails the delicate balance between subtle, almost shimmer-like modulation and the larger-than-life ambience that’s become intrinsic to the CHVRCHES sound.
But the right side of this pedal is even more impressive. OBNE has somehow managed to create a drive circuit that sits somewhere between the light crunch of the 1981 Inventions DRV and the roar of an overdriven Sunn Model T amp. Playing through a Matchless Nighthawk 15, we find ourselves in awe at how it maintains these characteristics without ever sounding harsh or fizzy. Highs are remarkably transparent, lows are never dull or muddy, and the most surprising feature is the amount of gain the Violence circuit has on tap – more than enough to justify its name.
For most users, though, the real joy happens when you start experimenting with the routing inside the pedal. By flipping that central switch, we can run Screen into Violence or Violence into Screen, with wildly different results. Selecting drive into reverb with the dirt set at 4 o’clock and everything else at noon yields a gain-soaked modulated ’verb similar to the dense textures of the CHVRCHES song How Not To Drown. Routing reverb into drive, we’re rewarded with soundscapes reminiscent of post-rockers This Will Destroy You or the more subdued textures of Daughter.
Capturing the uniqueness of CHVRCHES’ signature synth-heavy yet reverb-drenched sound in a single guitar pedal is certainly no easy task, yet somehow OBNE has managed to do just that. From lush shoegazing ambiences that would be right at home on a new Slowdive or Team Sleep album, to a powerful drive section that could easily take you into My Bloody Valentine territory, the Screen Violence absolutely lives up to the hype.
PRICE $279 (available from OBNE website and CHVRCHES gigs)
DESCRIPTION Stereo modulated reverb and overdrive pedal, made in USA
CONTROLS Reverb mix, screen (multiple parameters) and mode switch; overdrive voice, volume, violence (input gain) and gain switch; individual footswitches, ‘first’ switch for changing effect order
FEATURES Mono, stereo and mono-to-stereo operation, soft-touch switching and relay bypass; expression pedal input for reverb; powered by nine-volt mains supply only (100mA)
DIMENSIONS 140 x 102 x 38mm
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