The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 1.3

Mar 27, 1998

"And to survive, I will need a weapon,
that's razor sharp, and spitting flame,
like the fires of Hell, and all their deepest fears..."
- Lyrics from "A Dream of Death"

Recording for the new Fireaxe project "A Dream of Death" is almost complete. Things look good for a release in a couple months contingent on new artwork and other production issues. It is likely that the project will be released on CD and the sound quality is greatly improved over that on the tape demos. Fireaxe continues to gain new supporters, a big "Hello!" to those receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. The New year is already very productive for Fireaxe and a lot of cool new things are in the works.

The New Fireaxe Project - "A Dream of Death"

The third Fireaxe recording is almost complete. Real Audio samples of the first two songs are available for sneak previews on the Fireaxe website

Listen to a few minutes of "The Rack" and "Earthbound Goddess" in real audio to get an idea of what the new stuff is like. Basically it's a lot like the old stuff only better. Everything's been improved on although you might not be able to tell through the real audio format. I may add MP3 files. 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. They will play in real time.

I've been very busy recording and haven't had any time to add new sound files to the website, but here's a quick rundown on the songs on the new project. Samples will be available at some point in the future, probably after the recording is finished.

The Rack - Heavy, thrashy and ferocious. Takes hold of you and doesn't let go.

Earthbound Goddess - Soothing and melodic with a powerful chorus. A love song of sorts but not fluffy at all.

The New God - Slightly funky but very metal. You have to love the 'Bullshit' chorus.

Another Dream - A slow, powerful, ballad describing how dreams toy with our lives.

Unholy Rapture - Strong and heavy, the bass guitar intro sets the stage for a song which will twist your emotions into knots.

I Am the Destroyer of Dreams - The declaration of war. Powerful and aggressive, building to two stunning climaxes.

All in Flames - Speed, power, blazing solos, nothing left sacred. The circular logic refrain is wicked.

Where's the Sun? - Slow and sad. An echo effect is used to give the sound of layered guitars which create beautiful harmonies.

A Wrench in the Works - The horrifying truth is laid out in waves of power metal.

One Last Kiss - A fitting end to a monstrous tale

The final two songs are due to be recorded very soon while the rest are in the final stages of completion. The sound departs farther from standard metal than in Unholy Rapture combining an interesting blend of Power/Progressive metal with leanings toward classical music. Reviewers will have an even tougher time trying to describe the sound. The solos are fantastic, contributing greatly to the overall sound. This disc will be a real treat for all those who get the chance to hear it.

Updates to the Fireaxe Website

There haven't been too many updates to the website since I have been working full tilt on the new project. There are some new links, and I have separated them out into two sections, links to Fireaxe listener's pages, and links to various metal sites. This will make it easier for people to sort through the URLs and find what they are looking for. One site which has been improving almost weekly in Denis Zafiros' Metal Workz site. Visitors can now order Fireaxe demos from his Online Shopping page. Also check out the Sound Stage where visitors can hear samples of bands and vote on them. Check out this awesome site and be sure to vote for Fireaxe.

The meaning of the songs - "DeathMachine" and "Nightmare Lake

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 "DeathMachine" and "Nightmare Lake".

DeathMachine DeathMachine is the longest song on "Unholy Rapture" and one which is becoming my personal favorite on that demo. It began as just a chorus, the word 'Deathmachine' repeated over and over in 3/4 time. This can be heard in the "angelic chorus" at the end of the second verse. How a twelve minute song grew out of such a simple melody is a story in itself.

I needed a body to match the chorus, one that would be of a similar descending style. The 8 chord progression I came up with was definitely odd. It goes in and out of minor chords and has a really neat feel to it. The tricky part came when I was trying to figure out the accompaniment for it. After struggling for hours I found a great match which somehow lines up with all the minor and major chords while maintaining a smooth feel in itself. With that part played with distortion, the other without, and done to 3/4 time it sounded like some sort of death waltz. Bizarre, but fitting well with what I had in mind for the song.

When I reached the "age of disillusionment", which a lot of us go through, and realized that our civilization was built primarily on bullshit, I had the desire to put my thoughts about it to music. Deathmachine is the song which captures these sentiments. Society is viewed as a great machine which chews up and spits out the individual to maintain it's need for progress. I figured I'd have an introduction segment describing how things all got started, three segments dealing with various perspectives on our society, and some conclusion or climax to describe where it is going. I started thinking up short verses which describe the hopelessness characterizing the human condition in the modern world. I came up with some great ones like:

"So you swear to be pure, and bravely assure,
your virtue will never be tried.
But you must lie, steal, and cheat, in a world made of meat,
and repent at the end of your life."


"It doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong,
If they have the power, you won't last long."

and one of my favorites:

"With a tear in your eye, you make one last try,
your children will champion your cause.
And you sadly lament, what you cannot prevent,
as their crushed by mechanical jaws."

After putting together enough of them to fill each verse I was ready to add the climax. I wanted it to get fast and furious, matching the breakneck pace of our modern world, and describing how we climb all over each other to get ahead. I stuck in a few solos to heighten the tension and then had it descent into pretty much industrial noise. The heavy pounding rhythm with wailing harmonics played over it made it sound like the death machine was devouring you.

Then there was the finishing touch. The ending I came up with while cycling one day. For whatever reason the following verse came into my mind:

"And as your body starts to choke and spit up blood,
and you are longing for the release of death,
the madness falls away, layer by layer,
one taste of freedom before the end."

When sung clean with just minimal instrumentation, it sounds hauntingly beautiful, sweetly tragic, a mixture of emotions that are usually separate.

All that was left was to put an appropriate intro and outro to the piece. The keyboard added a kind of dreamy feel to it giving the piece the impression that it is like a dream, or nightmare. I added the guitar part onto it later. Like the rest of the song, the contrast created worked wonderfully.

When I finally had it completed, it was over twelve minutes long, but the length was of no matter to me. I felt I had said what I wanted to say and if it takes that long to say it, then that's how long the song should be.

Nightmare Lake Turning poetry into music is not easy. You have to work around the fact that there are no choruses and that the whole thing often flows as a single piece. Then you also have to make sure to match the theme and feel of the poem along with the line length and meter used by the poet. Another problem which can come up, and did so with Nightmare Lake, is that there are no breaks in the poem. There you have to use some artistic license to put in breaks for solos or interludes and make them add to the song (or at least not detract from it). You also have to worry about whether the original author will be rolling in his grave, or in this case, sending a Shoggoth out after you.

Nightmare Lake builds to two climaxes and so I searched for a way to build to each one while keeping continuity between the parts. Since most music that I had written and listened to up to then was pretty much the ABACAB format it was difficult figuring out how to make it work and sound cohesive. I eventually found four parts which flowed well together and described different feelings. These I associated with the parts of the song that fit them the best. The result was pretty impressive, fitting well with the poem, and helped spur me on to more and more experimental ways of writing songs.

One problem that I didn't pay attention to was that I didn't put in enough breaks. I laid down the drums, guitar, and solo tracks and then got ready to do the vocals. It was then I noticed that I had to sing constantly for three full minutes in the body of the song including some of the more tricky parts. This first time I tried singing it I was just about dead at the end. It forced me to learn some singing tricks and techniques for handling long verses.

The poem is in line with the classic Lovecraftian theme, an unspeakable horror is slowly revealed from a first person perspective. In this case it is a lake which covers over a forgotten city of nameless horrors. The occupants are long dead, or are they? In the final climax the vision of the doors of the sepulchures opening yields a disturbing image of what might soon come forth. It is too horrible to imagine, and the reader must pray that the lake's surface may never sink and unleash whatever is waiting down below.

The music captures the feel of the poem wonderfully, building from quiet serene passages to powerful and dramatic creshendos. Vocal only passages in the middle and at the end punctuate the horror, especially the final line. It might just put a chill up your spine.

Fireaxe CDs available

In response to a request from a college radio DJ, a friend and I put together a Fireaxe CD to be played during the station's unsigned band program and possibly on other programs. The disc looks great, complete with front and back covers, and art on the disc itself. The drawback is that the sound quality is not so good. The songs were digitized through a PC sound card so it lost some of the brightness and the bass is a bit distorted. Anyway, a couple of the songs on it sound good, and it doesn't cost too much to make one, so if anyone is interested in having one, send me some e-mail. It contains three songs, "Beyond Zimbabwe", "Nightmare Lake", and "The Rack". The versions of "Beyond Zimbabwe" and "Nightmare Lake" have been re-recorded and are improved over what is available on the demo tapes. "The Rack" is from the new project "A Dream of Death".

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 few months, some possibilities for a project combining Lovecraftian works with original Fireaxe songs in a similar vein have materialized. A theme I had in mind is "Food for the Gods" meaning that WE are the food for the gods. Lovecraftian poetry fits this theme well and Fireaxe is open to the idea of collaborating with people wanting to write lyrics for some of the songs. Also fitting well with this theme are the topics of religious warfare, fundamentalism and ideological conflict. The slant here is that your enemies are food for your gods. After "A Dream of Death" comes out I'll take a vote on people would like to hear next from Fireaxe.

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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