Looking to hear what your favorite high gain overdrives are. I'm sure you all have tons of great pedals to share with me
Dude, nice choice in music. I love the sword, some of the riffs on gods of the earth rock.What kind? I've collected a number of high gainers, and sold off the ones that don't offer anything unique. That's still left me with quite a few high-gain dirt boxes, each of which does something the others don't. Only one or two are "this pedal sounds like that amp" high gain pedals, mostly it's neato flavors. E.g. the Ibanez Tube King reissue, the one that runs on AC power and makes me scared to plug it in since I'm afraid it'll fry my pedals. It doesn't sound like a 5150 or a Mesa or a cranked up Marshall; it definitely has its own kind of distortion going on. But, man, it rocks! Very tight sound, I like the clipping tone of it. Affordable used, which is always a plus.
I would recommend the Damage Control Solid Metal as another "generalist" high gainer; it's more open than the Tube King TK999HT, uses two tubes (plus some solid state stuff, as I understand it) instead of one tube plus some solid state stuff like the Tube King RI. It has very effective tone shaping and is really one of the best high gain dirts I've used. It satisfied me for a long time back when the idea wasn't to sample so many different flavors but rather to just get something I loved and stick with it alone - it was my main high gain distortion pedal for almost two years. I think the prices have gone down now that they're discontinued, because the DC pedals are friggin' ginormous. The Tube King reissue is a pain because it's kind of big and intended to sit diagonally like a diamond rather than as a square, but the DC pedals have its surface area totally covered and then some.
I think the EHX Metal Muff doesn't get as much love as it deserves, maybe because it's a little picky with amps, but it does have a very good sound. One of the guitarists in The Sword uses one as his main distortion tone and they have a really nice, thick sound. I like the one with Top Boost. Some people think Top Boost sucks. I think it's really finicky to use but when dialed in subtly it still gives you a screaming solo tone. Based around a fundamental Metalzone topology but with a lot of distinctions to set it apart from that clipping "engine."
And that's not even getting into small-builder pedals. Tons of good stuff there. But first-
I could go on, but I'd rather you give a bit to go on - what kind of high gain sound are you after? Type of amp, name of a band, link to youtube clip of a song? Wide experience tends to inspire me to write small essays on this stuff, but if you give me something to focus on, I can be much more to the point to help you address your needs.