Kink Guitar Pedals | Expect to pay: $308
Key Features: What do you get when you take one of the most iconic distortion circuits of all time (hint: it shares a name with a particularly pesky rodent) and stack it alongside a Civil War-era fuzz pedal that’s renowned for its roaring tones and unfathomable sustain?
Meet the Russian Plague: an ambitious dual-circuit stompbox from Kink Guitar Pedals that looks to be the be the ultimate machine for all of your doomer needs.
For those who might be uninitiated, Kink Guitar Pedals are a Melbourne-based boutique pedal company who’ve managed to establish a rather impressive rep sheet for their modded, hand-wired takes on classic effects units.
Each unit they’ve produced tends to receive rave reviews due to their killer tones, clever circuit pairings (the Straya Drive, for instance, fuses a Tubescreamer and a Marshall Guv’nor circuit, and it totally slams) and eye-catching custom paint-jobs, leading them to become a cult sensation among players both at home and abroad.
Thanks to its menacing design and sickeningly good tones, the Russian Plague ranks highly as one of Kink’s most popular pedals, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. The pedal features two unique channels, with the RAT residing on the right and the Russian Big Muff sitting on the left, with each side featuring an oversized dial to control volume and two smaller controls for gain and tone.
Both circuits can be used on their own or engaged simultaneously to enter uncharted doomy territories, and there’s also a well-placed toggle switch to change the signal order of the pedal should you desire.
Other unique features include top-mounted power and instrument inputs and outputs to make it easier for you to squeeze onto a crammed pedalboard, and of course, there’s that brutal custom artwork on the front to remind you of all the carnage this pedal’s capable of.
Should you prefer a cleaner, more minimal slate, Kink Guitar Pedals also offer a Naked Russian Plague that features a simple white aesthetic and subtle branding – the choice is all yours to make.
Mixdown Says: Apologies for the copious usage of the term ‘doom’ throughout this review, but my God, is this thing doomy.
Despite this, the Russian Plague also functions incredibly well for a range of other applications: the modded RAT distortion circuit can clean up spectacularly for use as a subtle boost or to inject some extra grit into your signal, and the distorted rhythm tones it’s capable of will leave all kinds of rock, alternative and punk players happy.
The Soviet Big Muff side of the Russian Plague, however, is something else entirely unto itself. Even with all knobs placed at 12 o’clock, it’s able to spew out some truly filthy fuzz tones that’ll leave your jaw hanging on the floor, with the unique tonal flavour and unprecedented sustain of the pedal elevating the experience of playing it even further.
That being said, it works particularly well for those looking to perform grunge-inspired lead lines or chugging riffs, and when used strategically, can output a deceptively creamy solo tone.
When you finally feed the RAT channel into the Civiil War fuzz circuit, the Russian Plague really starts to reveal its true powers as a weapon of tonal destruction. Pairing it with a humbucker-equipped instrument and cleverly dialling the controls of your amplifier will result in some gnarly sludge tones, and cranking up the gain and scooping off all the top end from the tone makes for some menacing feedback drones in the vein of SUNN O))).
Be careful with that volume knob, though: this pedal can get pretty damn loud, and it’d be worth making sure you don’t have any particularly fussy neighbours at home before you start to test its limits.
Overall: Disgustingly good, in the best way possible. Kink Guitar Pedals have genuinely knocked it out of the park with the Russian Plague, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a combination better for doom or sludge styles at this price-point – the Australian-made factor is just the cherry on top.