Review: Rivera Metal Shaman Pedal

In ancient Mayan civilization, a shaman was an individual who could pass through a portal into another world. The Rivera Metal Shaman distortion pedal does a similar thing by allowing guitarists to go from a mild-mannered clean state to otherworldly heavy, pummeling distortion with the click of a footswitch, making the pedal’s name and Mayan sun-god graphics appropriate.

If you worship at the altar of metal, the Rivera Metal Shaman is your one-way ticket to high-gain heaven, with tones that will rip off your head and tear out your heart without sacrificing the body and soul of your guitar’s distinctive personality.


The Shaman is housed in a rock-solid stainless-steel case that’s sturdy enough to endure lead-footed jackboot stomps. Its two footswitches—one for true bypass and the other for the boost feature, aptly labeled “disintegrate”—are similarly rough and tumble, while the controls and switches are kept out of harm’s way in a recessed, split-level section at the front of the pedal. The pedal has controls for EQ (bass, mid and high), gain and level, a brutality switch, and a separate noise gate with a bypass switch and sensitivity and release knobs. Blue, red and green LEDs illuminate when the effect, disintegrate feature and noise gate, respectively, are engaged or activated.

The pedal can be powered by a nine-volt battery or an optional nine-volt DC center-negative adaptor, but since eight screws have to be removed to access the battery compartment, most users will want to use an adaptor. Construction and components are all first-class, from the smooth, liquid-like feel of the control knobs to the low-noise components found throughout the circuit.

Like most pedals that offer extreme levels of high gain, the Metal Shaman sounds best when used with an amp dialed to a clean setting. This helps to retain maximum tightness and definition when the effect is engaged. The distortion range extends from a tone similar to Hetfield’s Ride the Lightning rhythm to wilder and woollier territory, especially when engaging the brutality switch, which boosts the bass while making the sound more dynamic and 3-D. The EQ covers an impressively wide range, although turning the bass and treble controls beyond 3 o’clock can push some amps a little too far, so use discretion. While the pedal is capable of mammoth scooped tones, it always retains crucial midrange frequencies to keep the guitar from getting lost in the mix (think of it as a “scooped W” sound).

Cheat Sheet
Street Price $299
Manufacturer Rivera Amplification,

The disintegrate function boosts the signal for solos, and the brutality switch makes the bass bigger while enhancing the pedal’s dynamic response.

A built-in noise gate keeps even the most distorted settings noise free while allowing jackhammer rhythms to maintain definition.

The Bottom Line
Like its Mayan high-priest namesake, the Rivera Metal Shaman is ruthless and mystical, providing a wide range of tones that are as heavy as a pyramid’s cornerstone.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.