The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 1.1

Nov. 19, 1997

"Music is emotion and emotion never dies, if a song makes you
feel strongly in a certain special way, then it is very much alive."

It's been a hectic first year for Fireaxe, going from a mere conceptual state to a musical entity alive and well on the internet. Fireaxe has a nation-wide audience and even extends across the borders to Canada and England and is accessible world-wide. This is the beauty of the internet, the potential to directly link artist and listener on a global scale without media saturation, hype, and high cost. Without the net, Fireaxe would probably not even exist. Much more is planned for the future, and some of it is here already. I've recently added a site to the internet and updated the old one. Here's an outline of all the new developments:

Fireaxe Virtual Concert website

After waiting for a few months for real audio support, my ISP scrapped the idea. In response I got a free geocities website and put two full length song samples on it. It works great. Now people can just click on the link and hear the real audio playing in real time. Currently there are newly re-recorded versions of Beyond Zimbabwe and Nightmare Lake in stereo on the site. Check out the Fireaxe Virtual Concert Site. There's also a link to it from the old Fireaxe website as well as a link back.

Updates to Fireaxe Website

I've had some complaints about the real audio files stored on my website. For some reason, a few had gotten corrupted or something and did not download and play properly. I worked on this a while and found out that version 2 files have some definite problems. So I resampled all the songs in version 3 stereo format. They sound much better, and can even be played real time, you just have to point the real audio player at the sound file. I've got it set up to give you a message showing where the sound file is when you click on the link. It's still a work-around, but much better than before.
Also, I've added a page talking about the new Fireaxe project. I'll be putting up samples and updates from time to time so you can get the inside scoop on what's going on.
Additionally, there's some new links to cool sites in the links page. Check out Nova Scotia's fierce new band NEVER, Scott Bivins' Progressive Metal site, and Denis Z's Metal works page.

The New Fireaxe Project - "A Dream of Death"

The third Fireaxe recording is now in the works. It will be a full length concept album telling the tale of a person torn apart by the beauty of dreams and the ugliness of reality. The sound will be a mixture of styles found on both "Unholy Rapture" and "Lovecraftian Nightmares". The material should be some of the best ever from Fireaxe.
Recording quality will be much improved. The recent purchase of an 8 track recorder (everything else was recorded on only 4) and further refinements of the sound response has improved the quality substantially. A real bass guitar has been added in place of the pedal, and a year of practice has resulted in a much improved singing voice. When the new tracks have been laid out, I plan to have it all mastered at a professional recording studio. I'm hopeful it will measure up to the sound quality of modern recordings.
If there's enough interest, it's possible that "A Dream of Death" will come out on CD. The minimum volume for retail ready CDs is 500 and will cost about $3.5 each. For 1000 the cost drops to $2.5 each. Adding in mailing costs brings the distribution cost to $5 per CD, a big chunk below market cost. Of course, I lack the big marketing machine that the professionals have so it will be a challenge to find 500 interested buyers. Hopefully the new sound samples and website will draw enough attention to make this a reality.

The meaning of the songs - Beyond Zimbabwe

Some of you have wrote to me wanting to know what a particular song means. One good use of this newsletter would be to tell you all what the songs mean (at least to me) as well as give some other comments about how they were written and anything else interesting. The first song I will describe is Beyond Zimbabwe, others will follow.

Beyond Zimbabwe. This song is based around an H.P. Lovecraft poem fragment which is only 8 lines long. The first line sets the tone for the style of music "The drums of the jungle in ecstasy boom". Lovecraft accomplishes a lot in just 8 lines, describing a mad religious ritual in some far off jungle. Lovecraft's imagery is compelling and unusual, and it was a challenge to match it with compelling and unusual music.
The initial rhythm for this song came about before I read the poem. I had a great pounding riff in 3/4 time which launched into a set of power chords but nothing more. I was searching for a good subject to build the rest of the song when I read the poem. I knew it would be weird putting an 8 line poem with no chorus to music, but I started working on it and it clicked. I substituted a solo guitar for the lack of vocal material and built it into five and a half minutes, all the while trying to capture the feel of the poem. In the end I added a few more lyrical elements, singing "Beyond Zimbabwe" at the beginning and end and doing the priest's crazed laughter and insane ranting. It was me, not Lovecraft, who wrote "God is coming for me, and then he is coming for you!". Although I want to stay 100% pure with putting his poems to music, this is one of only a few times where I thought I needed to add or change things.
This song marks the beginning of the dual-guitar sound for Fireaxe. When I was playing the initial rhythm, and got to the shift into the power chords I had two ways I wanted to go. The first was to go back down to a low E chord, but it sounded too anti-climactic. The second was to go up to the high G chord but it sounded unsupported. Then I thought - why not both with two guitars. It seemed like a waste of a track at the time (since I only had 4 available), but I started to think up more tricks I could do with two guitars not playing the same way. It was tough to write, just being one person, but when I finally got it rocking it was pretty wild. Laying a solo over it, especially the final solo just creates a dense jungle of sound. Somehow I held it all together. In the end the music really captures the mood of the poem, chaotic and intense, easy to visualize the mad scene.
If there is any Fireaxe song that I want people to hear, it is Beyond Zimbabwe. That's why I put it on both demo tapes in the lead position - plus it seemed to fit both themes. I really like the dual guitar sound, and now that I have more tracks to record on, I will use it more frequently. This song defines, at least part of, the "Fireaxe Sound".

The Future

There's nothing certain about the future, just a lot of possibilities. First and foremost is completing the new project. After that there are plans to re-record the older two tapes and add some material as well as make some changes. Forming a band to perform and record Fireaxe material is a possibility as well as actively pursuing a recording contract with a metal label. It really depends on the audience response. My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in whatever way is necessary. Whatever the market demands, I will supply. But I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel. Exposure is fine, but in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to match the demands of the marketplace. This would totally defeat the purpose of why I write music in the first place. I write music because it is a way to express my emotions. What I both think and feel goes into the songs. That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion diminishes the emotive effect. This is how art should be.

Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

Currently Fireaxe is not for profit. I sell the tapes for $3 each which covers $2 per tape and $1 to mail it. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a tape for free. Since I am not making any money with the current recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or less plus any delivery cost. You are not allowed to make any profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so I can keep track. Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious link back to my website. This includes putting Fireaxe song samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided you are an unsigned band without a marketting tie-in. You are not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. You are free to play "Heart and Steel" as loud as you want while driving at trans-legal speeds singing "I am the ruler of the night". However, I will not pay for any ticket you might get.
6. You are free to play "Godslayer" in church, but it is not recommended.
7. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe song. I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute. On a serious note, if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me if you have no one else to talk to.

The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of credit for having written it. I'm open to any methods of distributing my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording label distribution. However, you will need my direct permission to do so or some kind of legal agreement.

Brian Voth - Creator of Fireaxe

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