There is a wide variety of tonal possibilities with DeepSpace Device’s GOLEM, from barely audible change to a clean signal to a thunderous crunch, as demonstrated in this video:
GOLEM is not your typical distortion/fuzz. There are so many setting possibilities that you would be hard-pressed to think it is the same pedal when hearing it from one spectrum to the next. The RAGE knob produces the gain and its density, and you can get a range from barely audible to a basic rock sound to a tone starting to push over the edge of chaos (particularly when combined with some other controls on the GOLEM). The FORM knob shapes the tone, which produces a very smooth bass to a very clean (non-brittle) treble. The SHIFT knob allows you to add some high-mids, which really helps cut through the mix. All the other switches serve to push those elements further into some of the thickest and heaviest sounds possible.
There are a lot of tone-shaping possibilities with the GOLEM, and for only $169, from subtle to hard rock to massively thick (as DeepSpace Devices indicate: “this monolith delivers stone-crushing tones by delivering tectonic plate-scraping sounds”). If you’re attracted to pedals because of how they look, the GOLEM is a keeper. Not only does it have a cool paint job, with a fantasy-art-based GOLEM character, but two of the switches are located at the GOLEM’s eyes (and the other two on his head, like horns or perhaps antennae sending off sonic signals). What is more awesome about this pedal is that it takes shape-toning that extra step by offering a three-stage ‘push’ (via the QUAKE switch) of what tonal character you choose (germanium diode, silicone diode or boost on the TREMBLE switch). Even the overall tone has some added tonal complexity – you choose how much bass or treble you want via the FORM knob, but then can add high-mids via the SHIFT knob and even more bottom end via the MASS switch. There is a lot of fun and experimentation with this pedal concept (distortion/fuzz) that tends to be more straight-forward with other pedals of its genre. In other words, with a lot of pedals of this ilk you usually zero in on one very usable tone and stay there, but with the GOLEM you can find more than one usable tone and then add to (accentuate) it in different ways and in different measures.
EASE OF USE
Initially GOLEM is not an easy pedal to use, since it offers so much and adjusting one aspect affects what already is in place with the other aspects. However, sitting back, relaxing with the descriptive instructions and getting a sense of how things sound and ‘shape up’ soon will have you dialing in some killer sounds. Consequently, ease of use scores low for the initial hour (some intimidation) and then scores relatively high thereafter and once you know how all the ‘gears’ work. At least the GOLEM is all analog and you don’t have to scroll through a screen and make adjustments in that manner.
Here is the GOLEM in simple terms. The POWER knob simply adjusts volume output. The two key sound elements are the RAGE (how much drive or gain you want) and the FORM (how much bass vs. treble). From there you fine-tune and alter the result. You can choose a germanium (thicker and heavier) or silicon (smoother and sizzling) diode or opt out for a hard-hitting boost, all via the TREMBLE switch. You can increase the effect of the TREMBLE two more stages by flipping the QUAKE switch (one element works off the other). You can add some bottom end to the overall signal by flipping the MASS switch. You can increase the high-mids via the SHIFT knob (very nice tonal contouring here). And, finally, you can get a gated-type drive (like lava burping from a volcano) with a flip of the EVOLVE switch.
Now, having suggested how much you can change your tone, this may not be the easiest pedal to use on a dark stage if you tend to or need to make a lot of changes (at least partway through a song as opposed to between songs). However, that may depend on how well-versed you become in flipping switches and dialing into different sounds.
RELIABILITY & DURABILITY
DeepSpace Device’s GOLEM is a medium-large sized pedal with a steel chassis… it needed to be slightly larger than average to allow all the tone-shaping controls on board. The paint/graphics are of a high quality… you can feel the thickness at your fingertips, and it would take quite a bit of abuse to scratch it off. The footswitch has a solid click and feels of good quality. The four knobs (POWER, RAGE, FORM and SHIFT) are of plastic and sit far back enough from the footswitch. Then there is the LED and four switches (TREMBLE, Shake, MASS and EVOLVE), all of which are housed safely and comfortably inside the perimeter of the four knobs. All lines (input/output/POWER) are located in the back, to save on pedal board space and to keep unwanted force or pressure away from a stomping foot. You cannot use a battery with the GOLEM, but a 9v DC power supply (minimum 100mA, which is no problem for any power supply on the market).