The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 1.4

May 27, 1998

"Pain is my mistress and revenge is her desire."
- Lyrics from Fireaxe's Dark Past

Recording on "A Dream of Death" is complete. It has been mixed at a professional studio directly to digital and it sounds just incredible. The artwork for the booklet is finished. Soon copies of this terrifyingly awesome CD will be heading your way. Be warned, this is some seriously intense music, somehow chaotic, powerful, and beautiful all at the same time. Brace yourselves.

If all goes as planned I'll have CDs ready for shipping in a month. Watch this spot for the official release date.

Enough hype, on with the newsletter.

Fireaxe wins an "IcePick"

I sent a tape to Jason Christie who co-authors a webzine named "Eternal Frost" and plays drums for a band called Gortician. Although Jason is big into death metal, something about "Unholy Rapture" got to him in a big way. I was stunned to find out that not only did he like the tape, but he decided it was good enough to be his "Icepick", or choice of best unsigned band of issue #2 of Eternal Frost. Here are some of the things Jason had to say about Fireaxe in his review:

"Sheer artistry and dedication. Fireaxe pays a lot of attention to arrangement, solo construction and lyrical themes creating an undeniably strong collection of songs."

"'Godslayer' is the lyrical highpoint, to me. He more or less destroys the concept of religion, but with elegance and grace. He sets up religion like the strawman it is, only to utterly eviscerate it."

"...a compelling piece of work"

"The fuzzed-out overdriven rhythms are overpowering."

And a whole lot more good stuff located at Eternal Frost.

While you're there, check out the rest of Eternal Frost. Christie and his partner in death, Goden have put a lot of work into their site and reviews. Also, death metal bands and enthusiasts should find their way to Jason's Death Metal Music Association page. It contains a lot of listings for death metal bands like Gortician, Catholicon, and the provocatively named "Female Dominated Society" among about a hundred others. There are logos, sound clips, e-mail contacts and links, and somewhere in there is Fireaxe.

It seems somewhat ironic that a band named "Fireaxe" would win an "Icepick", but I graciously accept the honor. It pleases me to know that guys into the harder and more brutal forms of metal can appreciate my music.

Stormwatch gives the nod to Fireaxe

"This is a band that is epic in scope, simply put."

The words of Scott Waldie in reference to the copy of "Unholy Rapture" I sent to him. Although he ripped on my drum machine (don't worry Scott, the sound is much improved on "A Dream of Death"), Scott gave the thumbs up to the demo and had several good things to say about it:

"Capable of strong songwriting and catchy licks...Fireaxe doesn't disappoint on songs like 'Beyond Zimbabwe', 'Godslayer', and of course the 12 minute epic 'Death Machine'."

Epic is a good word to describe Fireaxe music. Not only in the fact that Fireaxe songs are very long (the average Fireaxe song is 7 1/2 minutes) but dig down to get at deep, meaningful issues and present them in full scope. When I write songs, I don't end them until I've said all I wanted to say. Sometimes that takes over 10 minutes to capture the range of emotions I'm trying to describe. I've always liked long, epic songs. To me they are the most memorable and meaningful songs and often define an album, band, or even entire genre. Thus, when I write, I tend towards epic pieces, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the new CD "A Dream of Death". Scott's going to love it.

Scott Waldie edits a metal magazine called Stormwatch which is soon to gain an internet presence. When it is on line, there will be a link to it on the Fireaxe 'Metal links' page.

Updates to the Fireaxe Website

Not much to report for the last two months. Some good sites have been added to the metal links page.

Eternal Frost and the DMMA page have been added as well as Carlos Tavares' excellent Marillion site and Steve Yackira's WUTS 91.3 FM site. Steve was the first person to play Fireaxe over the radio on his unsigned band show.

The Fireaxe site will get a facelift in the coming month. The new CD will have a featured page with lyrics and samples, and some overall improvements will be made to the rest of the site. The virtual concert site will have some cuts off the new CD added to the set list since geocities was nice enough to triple the storage it gives out for free.

The meaning of the songs - "Blind" and "Festival"

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. This issue will look at two of my favorite songs, "Blind" and "Festival".

Blind. This is the oldest song on "Unholy Rapture" and the recording quality isn't too good. But I really love this song and so I decided to add it onto the tape anyway.

It all started when I was experimenting with backing vocals. I wanted to do a choir but only had one track, so I added a lot of reverb and tried to do my best. When I laid down the rhythm guitar, something clicked. The heavily distorted guitar combining with the light and airy backing vocals worked pretty good. The sound was slow and doomy which ebbs and flows like the tide coming in. The real magic comes in when the song builds up to a pair of dramatic guitar solos. The doom sound slowly gives way to a more upbeat rhythm and a crazed wailing guitar replaces the vocals. The tension builds into two strong peaks, and then releases back into the slow doom sound once again. My favorite moment is halfway through the second solo when the tension builds to the climax. The rhythm has just switched from the upbeat to the slow and the solos switches from fast climbing notes to some really high wailing notes and then to a descending series of hammerons. It was while listening to this crescendo that I first came up with the term "Unholy Rapture". That's what the passage sounded like, a unique combination of beauty and chaos, the huge fuzzy distortion sound mixed with a pure focused guitar sound. It's something I've strived to capture often in Fireaxe music.

The lyrics are short and simple, but the meaning is not completely obvious. At first it seems like a song about someone calling out for god to return to him, but the final line of the second verse contains the clincher. Here are the entire lyrics:

I am blind, inside my mind.
There is no savior, to open my eyes.
I cannot sleep, I cannot dream.
There is no truth, just twisted lies.

Where is god? Where is his light?
I have no faith. I have no soul.
I am evil. I am in hell.
I have sinned. I broke the spell.

The line "I broke the spell" suggests that the vision granted by belief is nothing more than an illusion. The song suggests that being blind is the natural human state, and that the vision granted by religious belief is nothing more than a trick of the mind which grants peace and comfort. When the trick is discovered for what it is and the illusion is exposed, the pain returns with interest.

Putting this song after "Godslayer" on the demo works out pretty well. Godslayer ends with the words "I can no longer see, the lies that have comforted me", which leads in perfectly to "Blind".

Festival. I feel like I'm the only one who likes this song since everyone I talk to is kind of ambivalent toward it.

In Festival I really cranked up the reverb. It gives the song a really chilling and eerie feeling fitting well with Lovecraft's poem. Maybe it's too much reverb for some people, but I get a kick out of it. It makes the falseto lyrics sound absolutely icy, leading the listener into certain doom with a cold but tender hand.

As it is with many songs, the musical highpoint for me occurs with the solo break. I had to play it so gingerly to avoid any nasty sounds from echoing around in all the reverb. The result sounds wonderful, a slow sleepy passage which deepens the dreamlike quality of the song. If nothing else, this song is a good lead in to the hypnotic "Nathicana".

The meaning of this poem is Lovecraft's vision of a dark "festival". As the listener/reader gets further into the poem, the festival slowly takes on a dark and sinister quality. The final passage is the clincher:

And mayest thou to such deeds
Be an abbot and priest,
Singing cannibal greeds
At each devil-wrought feast,
And to all the incredulous world shewing dimly the sign of the beast.

Lovecraft suggests that during such a festival, it would be better to be one of the plundering cannibals as opposed to being one of the victims. Granted that a person had a choice, would they chose to be one of the demonic cannibals, or the main course? Like most of Lovecraft's works, the horror starts when the piece ends and the reader starts to think about what has been related. Like the poem, the song ends in a slow fade, leaving the listener alone with their thoughts.

The Future

The release of "A Dream of Death" is imminent. Sometime within the next month it should be ready to go. There have been several people who are interested in distributing copies of "Lovecraftian Nightmares". Thus it seems that re-recording the songs on that tape, adding a couple more Lovecraftian poems put set to music, and putting them to CD will be the next Fireaxe project. This will improve the quality of these songs tremendously as well as give me a chance to add some things to the songs that I couldn't before due to equipment limitations. But before I get into that project, there's a poem that one Fireaxe listener has submitted that I have promised to set to music. That is first up on the agenda for new recordings since he has been waiting patiently for several months. The song may end up on the Lovecraftian Nightmares CD, but I would like to put it on the future work "Food for the Gods".

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 in 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.

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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