GOLD AWARD WINNER
While many reverb pedals can reproduce traditional spring-tank reflections or heavenly cathedral-like dimensions, reverb is most often handled as a “set and forget” effect, especially if you play splashy surf guitar or just add a smidgen of ambience to your overall guitar sound.
And while that common approach is sufficient for many guitarists, some of us crave the unconventional when it comes to exploring the depths of the effect’s cavernous sound.
And for that purpose, the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath is a novel stomp box that combines bottomless pits of reverb with self-oscillating warp-driven delays, which in turn, create spatial soundscapes unlike anything you’ve ever heard.
FEATURES One look at the pedal’s screen-printed wizard-in-a-cave graphic makes it instantly clear that some otherworldly magic will be conjured from it. The Afterneath is housed in a sturdy chassis with a heavy-duty footswitch, a bright pale blue on/off LED and six controls crammed onto its compact surface. The length, diffuse and reflect knobs independently govern the digital reverb parameters, while drag hastens or slows its multiple pinging delays, and dampen and mix act like tone and wet/dry mix controls respectively. The pedal is true bypass with mono input and output jacks, and powered by a nine-volt adapter.
PERFORMANCE Six knobs may seem like overkill for a reverb, but the way the controls interact allows for sweeping aural pandemonium that’s fantastic for creating background ambience, static white noise or atmospheric layering.
It should be noted that it’s difficult to coax traditional reverb sounds from the Afterneath. Even with the drag (short delays) and reflect (reverb regeneration) knobs fully counterclockwise, the pedal quickly begins to regenerate, with notes bubbling up to the surface and launching into a perpetual swirl. The effect is mesmerizing but what makes it even more intriguing is to turn drag clockwise as you play and hear how those same sounds start to stretch into hyperspace and ultimately get swallowed up into a black hole. It would be nice if drag had an expression pedal jack for hands-free control, but that’s just a minor quibble.
For even more reverberation, diffuse adds washed-out spread when turned fully clockwise, and when it’s combined with both reflect and drag set close to noon, chords oscillate and ping into dense chaos. Twisting the drag control counterclockwise in this setting creates a pitch-bending effect of a descending alien spacecraft.
STREET PRICE $225
MANUFACTURER EarthQuaker Devices, earthquakerdevices.com
Twisting the drag knob spits out short, ping-pong delays that can be slowed down or sped up for warped-out sounds. At high settings, the reflect knob regenerates the reverb into frenzied self-oscillation that lingers.
THE BOTTOM LINE The Afterneath is a captivating special effects pedal that pumps out cavernous reverbs and shimmering short delays for total orchestral-sounding ambience.