Best distortion pedals for metal: standalone and stacked gain stages, plus 'amps in a box'

Two Notes pedals including the Le Lead on a pedalboard on a wooden floor
(Image credit: Future)

Let's be blunt – the majority of the most killer metal tones rely on tube amplification. Not everybody has the space or cash for a 5150 stack, though, and that's where this guide looking at the best distortion pedals for metal comes in.

Generally, the very best metal tones come from a good tube amplifier and a distortion pedal with a decent amount of volume boost, but we believe it is possible to get excellent metal tones from pedals. In this guide, we'll cover the best of standalone and stacked gain stages, as well as 'amp in a box' high-gain beasts.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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