The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 1.7

Oct 6, 1998

"I needed a spark to set things alight,
a man on a mission who was ready to fight.
To burn down the old and make way for the new,
to cleanse this world and that's why I made you."
- Fireaxe "A Wrench in the Works"

"A Dream of Death" continues to spread across the internet and take root in the growing metal underground. There was a time when the underground was mainly made up of bands who weren't quite good enough to be signed. Today that is far from the case. The underground is crawling with brilliant music with far greater diversity than the mainstream. Even signed metal bands are kept out of the mainstream, but I think that is a good thing. The genre is now in the hands of those who honestly care about it and respect it. The underground is now the metal scene.

How to order "A Dream of Death"

For those of you still dragging your feet about getting the new Fireaxe CD, here's how to get your own copy:

  • 1. Send me e-mail requesting the new CD and giving your address (if you prefer, you can send your address via snail mail)
  • 2. Mail $5 ($7 if overseas) and a note requesting the Fireaxe CD "A Dream of Death" to the following address. Include your return address.

Brian Voth
21426 Lake Forest Dr. Apt H
Lake Forest, CA, 92630 USA

If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, the CD is free of charge in exchange for the a review. In this case all I need is the e-mail request. Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your magazine with the review in it when it is ready. If you want to exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.

The CD comes with a booklet filled with awesome art, all the lyrics, a picture of yours truly in his studio, and some information about the CD which is given in this newsletter.

Reviews of "A Dream of Death"

Two reviews of this stunning CD have hit the internet. One is good and one is poor. The good news is that both reviewers were strongly affected by the music which is the true sign of artistic success.

Derek Daniel reviews Fireaxe on his "Stormbringer Webzine" site.

Derek had the following to say:

"This is an excellent album and one that will grab your attention.
It is also an album that grows on you and may take you several
listens before you begin to appreciate it's contents."

He also describes the guitar work as "intricate", "stunning", and "superb". "The Rack" is described as "hard & heavy and at the speed of a runaway train.", and "Another Dream" as "quietly powerful and emotional". Derek had plenty more good things to say about the CD in his review. Derek reviews a lot of CDs, so getting this kind of attention and feedback from him was rewarding enough in itself. Having him recommend the CD to metal fans everywhere was icing on the cake.

And now the bad news. Ed Sinder reviews Fireaxe on the Dutch Progressive Rock Page

Ed didn't just pan the CD, he totally rips into it. Actually he spends the majority of his review ripping into my personal philosophy and not the music, which is odd for a music review. He does get around to describing "A Dream of Death" as:

"one big flow of distorted speed metal guitar,
tasteless computer drumming and Brian's awful vocals"

At first I was taken aback, but then I read further:

"(which indeed sound a bit like Judas Priest and King Diamond;
those guys couldn't sing either, they only screamed)."

It was then that I realized that Ed wasn't a real metal critic after all. Oh well. He does end up saying something good about Fireaxe:

"I must admit that he is quite a talented composer.
Some of the melodies, vocal lines and song structures are quite impressive."

I consider this quote, plus the fact that the CD got Ed all worked up into a fit about it, as proof of it's worthiness as an artistic achievement.

Fireaxe welcomes any and all reviews and comments about the CD "A Dream of Death". Keep them coming folks. Even if you aren't into writing music reviews, sending in a paragraph or two about what you thought about the CD would be welcome. I'll most certainly put your words on my website when the "A Dream of Death" review page comes out.

Fireaxe breaks into MP3s

Wav files are too big. Real Audio quality sucks. What's a person who wants to hear music over the internet to do? The answer is use the MP3 format. MP3 is a compression format that delivers near CD quality sound in about 1/10th the space of an equivalent wav file. Storage is on the scale of 1MB per minute of CD quality stereo sound. That's still big, but worth it if you've got a fast modem or don't mind waiting.

Two songs off of "A Dream of Death", namely "I Am the Destroyer of Dreams" and "A Wrench in the Works", have been encoded in MP3 format. "A Wrench in the Works" is available on the Fireaxe Virtual Concert site

Both songs are available on the site (search for Fireaxe under Heavy Metal)

where you can also find links to players and encoders. Winamp is a great player which makes the real audio equivalent look pretty bad.

If you are into MP3s already, check into the Cybersonix website. which features MP3s from several unsigned bands including Fireaxe. They are just getting their site off the ground and are looking for bands with MP3s to put on their site. The site is looking good so far, check it out.

Two strange news items

Does God exist? No. But if he did we would probably hate Fireaxe, which makes the following stories suspicious.

Denis Zafiros, who has a great metal site called "Metalworkz" had his car struck by lightning not more than a few weeks after receiving a copy of "A Dream of Death". Did God call down this bolt from the sky to punish Denis? The good news is that the CD was undamaged.

A few days later, a fire roared up out of Santiago Canyon which is near the Fireaxe recording studio. The fires could be seen burning just miles from where the tracks on "A Dream of Death" were laid down. Did God summon up the fires of hell to destroy Fireaxe? The good news is that the danger passed as firefighters put out the blaze.

In any event, if God does exist, his vengeance is woefully inaccurate. Feel free to crank up the volume and rock.

The meaning of the songs - "Heart and Steel" and "The Outpost"

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 the most rocking Fireaxe songs, "Heart and Steel", and "The Outpost".

Heart and Steel. This song is about a love affair between a man and his car. Writing a song about driving is almost a requisite for any rock band. It's somewhat of a cliché, but in my opinion there is no better driving music than fast paced heavy metal. Fireaxe adds Heart and Steel to the ranks of great driving songs like Judas Preist's "Freewheel Burning", Black Sabbath's "Trashed", Deep Purple's "Highway Star", Manowar's "Wheels of Fire", and Steppenwolf's timeless "Born to be Wild".

The song starts slowly. The distortion kicks in between the first two verses sounding like an engine starting. After the second verse the music builds as if the car were getting up to freeway speed. Then comes several minutes of powerful hard driving rhythms and piercing solos. It builds to a great climax perfectly set up to sing (or scream) along to. Then there's another time change (into the "slalom") and then on to the final build up.

The ending is tragic, the man wrecks his car and ends up dead. The music simulates a car rolling over and over and smashing into an embankment. The siren of the ambulance is heard. Finally comes the epitaph, "Ashes to ashes, rust to rust.".

I really pushed the limits of my old TR-505 drum machine for this recording. The drum track was recorded in two parts due to memory limitations. I wanted to use the entire memory for the rocking part of the song. I used several time changes and even dropped a beat intentionally for the "slalom" section. I think the track definitely kicks.

The Outpost. This is the second hardest rocking song on the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" tape. The first note knocks you over, it is pure power with two thick heavily distorted guitars. The song goes back and forth between power and speed, describing Lovecraft's tale of a King who went out to explore outside his kingdom one night.

The King stumbled upon a long deserted outpost of an ancient race abhorred throughout the universe. As the King explores the city, the song slows down to a snail's pace. A guitar wails in the distance. Then, suddenly the pace picks up full speed. The King has realized that one day the ancients may return to this outpost and destroy his kingdom. He runs away in fear. The ending is epic. The song turns back to power metal. The King hides cowering in his palace with the torches lit up brightly every night as if he were a child who is afraid of the dark.

This is one of my favorite Fireaxe songs. I can't wait to re-record it for the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" CD. It's going to sound amazing with all the new improvements to the recording method. The big improvement this time around is the drum machine. My old TR-505 is on the shelf and in it's place is the amazing Roland R-8mkII "Human Rhythm Composer". That's no bullshit, it really sounds like a real drum set. It allows you to program the exact strength of every instrument hit along with micro-timing, pitch, decay, nuance, pan and several other options. It's impressive. One thing which it will let me do is add a gong to "The Outpost". I believe it was Chick Lewis who said that a gong would sound great for some of the Lovecraftian songs. I agreed. The new version of "The Outpost" is going to start off with an even bigger bang.

The Future

There have been several people who are interested in distributing copies of "Lovecraftian Nightmares". Thus, re-recording the songs on that tape, adding a couple more Lovecraftian poems put set to music, and putting them on a 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. Also, there's a poem that one Fireaxe listener has submitted that it excellent and that I have promised to set to music. I am pleased to announce that "Whispers in the Night" by Octavio Ramos will be included on the Lovecraftian Nightmares CD. Recording on this song has already begun and it is shaping up to be quite an impressive work. Also, I have noticed that I have room for one more song on the CD. I am open to setting any poem of the appropriate "Lovecraftian" feel to music. If there is anyone else out there who wants to submit a poem to be set to music and put on the next Fireaxe CD, get it in as soon as you can. Recording is already underway and will probably be completed by the end of the year. If you want to submit a poem, please do so within the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Over the last year, I've been thinking of some new song ideas revolving around a theme of religious warfare, fundamentalism, and ideological conflict. Although we feel safe in our modern world that open warfare cannot happen in our "sane" and "stable" society, nothing could be further from the truth. Volatility seems to be at an all time high for the latter half of this century. Throughout the world people are embracing extremism in greater and greater numbers. These people's beliefs are far outside the mainstream and they are willing to die for those beliefs. It appears that this situation will only escalate. The next Fireaxe CD (after "Lovecraftian Nightmares") will explore this theme. It will examine why people embrace these radical ideologies, explore the emotions going into extremism, and study the seeds of violence prevalent in our society. The CD will be titled "Food for the Gods" meaning that WE are the food for the gods. An extremist ideology is "God" and people are slaughtered in that God's name. The CD will fit loosely around the themes in "A Dream of Death" but will explore the more violent aspects of beliefs in depth. If you ever wondered what drives a person to kill and commit horrible atrocities, "Food for the Gods" will try to answer that question. It will be an extremely intense CD.

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. That is how art should be.

Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

Currently Fireaxe is not for profit. I sell the CDs for $5 each which covers the production and mailing costs. For CDs sent out of the country, I'll have to charge $7 per disk to cover the additional mailing cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a CD 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 required to crank the song "I Am the Destroyer of Dreams" as loud as you can at least once in your life. Singing along is optional but highly recommended.
  • 6. You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world. Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
  • 7. Fireaxe will not be held responsible for the destruction of hopes and dreams that may come while listening to this CD. Also, any subsequent social revolution which follows from this CD is simply not my fault. It's all part of the big picture. Just listen to the disk and you'll understand what I mean.
  • 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. When I was in my teens the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me. Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You" would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal. I'm just trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that effect on you, please get in touch. You aren't alone.

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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