The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 1.2

Jan. 20, 1998

"Of what good is hope? If you want something to happen,
then strive to make it happen. If you have no control over it,
it is unimportant. I have no time to waste by spending it just
hoping, I am too busy making real what I can."

Things are still moving along for Fireaxe. 1998 will hold a lot of cool developments for Fireaxe. Work on the new project "A Dream of Death" is moving right along and ideas for projects farther in the future are taking shape. A steady flow of metal fans have heard Fireaxe music and the new geocities website has been picking up a lot of hits. A big "Hello!" goes out to all those new Fireaxe appreciators out there. Welcome to the Burning Blade!

Fireaxe Extends its Influence Overseas

Though the American market may be in the doldrums in regards to metal music, the genre appears to be much more active in Europe. As a result, Fireaxe has been getting a significant amount of attention from metal fans in Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, and Greece as well. Once again the power of the internet makes it possible for a small band to have a global audience. What a great way to sidestep the club scene which is saturated with "the next big thing".

For a taste of the European market, check out the Dutch Progressive Rock Page

The news section is updated weekly. There's an article about Fireaxe in the January 16th news. If you get to the site before the 23rd it will be in this week's news. If not, you'll have to look through last week's news or the archives.

Also on the European front are:

Tantrumized Web Zine (Norway)

Noise Level Critical Webzine (UK)

Hellenic Metal Hammer site (Greece)

The New Fireaxe Project - "A Dream of Death"

The third Fireaxe recording is underway. Tracks for the first two songs have been completed and are available for sneak previews on the Fireaxe website under the New Projects listing.

Listen to a few minutes of "The Rack" and "Earthbound Goddess" in real audio. You'll have to point your real audio player at the sound file to get it to play, just click on the song clip and it will give you the location.

"The Rack" is a very heavy, very thrashy, and very powerful song in the vein of "Godslayer". The lead in sets the mood for the entire song:

"At the dawning of the mind's eye,
In a maelstrom of pain,
Tortured into consciousness,
On the rack, we are trained."

"The Rack" takes hold of you and doesn't let go, churning through a myriad of emotions. It feels like the title suggests.

"Earthbound Goddess" is almost a complete 180 from "The Rack". The ferocious pounding gives way to soothing melodies. But "Earthbound Goddess" is not fluff. It builds to a powerful chorus which makes your heart sing, a chorus that I've had in my head for over 12 years. Hearing it for the first time was a treat for me, I hope you will think so as well.

Despite the huge contrast in style, the two songs fit together well to form the first part of the storyline for "A Dream of Death".

Although it may be difficult to tell through the real audio files, the sound quality is definitely better than the older recordings. Once professionally mixed, it could rival professional quality. More to come.

Updates to the Fireaxe Website

There have been just a few additions to the Fireaxe Website recently. First of all, back issues of the Burning Blade are now archived on the Fireaxe website. Secondly, as described above, "A Dream of Death" has it's own page with sound samples and info about the new project. Thirdly, there are some new links in the links page and many more will be added soon including the European pages listed above.

The meaning of the songs - "Godslayer" and "Nathicana"

Some of you have written to me wanting to know what a particular song means. One good use of this newsletter is 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. This issue will look at the popular songs "Godslayer" and "Nathicana".

Godslayer This was the last song I wrote to complete the "Unholy Rapture" project. It was also the most ambitious. I wanted to put so much into this song, "dueling" guitar solos, multiple voices, styles ranging from thrash to power to melodic and back again, and a powerful lightning, wind and rain intro with the chilling "Godslayer" cry in stereo. Trying to get it all into 4 tracks seamlessly was a challenge, and mixdown took practice to get it right. In the end it all turned out pretty much as I wanted, it's quite impressive.

The song depicts a battle between "God" and the "Godslayer". Although the language and scenery reflects the Christian version of God, the meaning is more universal. God appears all powerful, all knowing, immortal, and undefeatable and so the Godslayer knows a direct confrontation is unwinnable. God (the belief in god) is built on dreams, dreams of salvation, dreams of immortality, dreams of love, of power, of freedom, and all manner of desires. This being so, the Godslayer attacks God by destroying the dreams.

We all have hopes and dreams, but do we control them, or do they control us? Dreams can get out of control, validating themselves through circular logic and building themselves into all encompassing fantasies. They can dictate our behavior and our thought, enabling them to reinforce themselves and growing stronger still. They become God, a god which fulfills our inner needs and desires while consuming the outside. As the song goes, "A perfect world, a perfect life, a perfect way to throw away your mind." The defense is the Godslayer, methodically chopping away at the dreams which aspire to godhood, always asking "Why?".

I tried to make the music fit with the events in the song. The "dueling" guitar solos played fast and frantically to a very fast thrashy rhythm express the heat of the battle. The pounding march rhythm expresses the power of both combatants. The melodic parts expressing the calmness of the arguments which build into more heated and emphatic points. It took 12 minutes to tell the tale, but I am committed to saying what I have to say when I write a song.

Nathicana This was the song that pretty much started Fireaxe. I had written some nifty and interesting songs previously, but nothing really good. I was reading some Lovecraft and thought it would make a great subject for a song. However, I didn't want to take a full short story and try to tell it in a few short lyrical lines. I knew I couldn't write like H.P. Lovecraft and it wouldn't feel the same. One of the short story collections I had contained a 100 line poem named "Nathicana". I loved the poem and decided to put it to music.

I used both a flanger and a stereo reverb effects pedal to get that weird but beautiful sound out of my guitar. Getting a reasonably clean sound when the distortion was added was a challenge, but what an effect is has. As the poem shifts from the "Garden of Zais" part to the "Cursed Season of Dzannin", the distortion captures the difference in feel perfectly. The same notes are being played, but seem covered in "redness", fitting with the poem so well.

The hypnotic effect of the song is unmistakable. The first few notes, in stereo, with reverb, and echoing, begin to draw the listener into the beautiful garden described so well by Lovecraft. I find it entertaining to relax and try visualizing each scene as H.P. describes it. But before I fall into a state of total bliss, the scene is destroyed and replaced by the horrors of Dzannin. Lovecraft describes the pain and lamentation of being drawn away from his loved Nathicana. Then the feeling changes to one of grim determination. H.P. prepares a draught which will allow him to depart from the world of horror and return him to the beloved garden. It's happy and sad at the same time, crushingly so.

It's a story of love and loss and of striving to recover the lost love. It hits on many levels, and describes a side of Lovecraft which is somewhat rare in all his writings. I feel it is one of his best works.

The Future

There's nothing certain about the future, just a lot of possibilities. First and foremost is completing "A Dream of Death". After that there are plans to re-record the older two tapes and add some material as well as make changes. In the last two months, some possibilities for a project combining Lovecraftian works with original Fireaxe songs in a similar vein have materialized. Work on this may coincide with re-recording the older material, or one may take precedence over the other. It really depends on which is more important, producing new material, or making the old stuff sound a lot better.

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. For tapes sent out of the country, I'll have to charge $5 per tape (total) to cover the additional mailing cost. 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. Fireaxe will not be held responsible for the loss of any listener's souls, whether through reduction of faith or by rampaging Shoggoths.
  • 8. 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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