The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 2.1

Dec 8, 1998

"One saving grace would make me blind.
But the Lampreys would on me not dine.
For a void thrall stood strong in its grue.
And issued forth, 'The worship pylon is not for you'"
- Fireaxe "Whispers in the Night"

Recording on the new Fireaxe project, a CD version of "Lovecraftian Nightmares" is well underway. It will feature a couple of new songs (like "Whispers in the Night" quoted above), a new logo, much improved recording quality, and a few new changes to the songs from the original tape. Look for it coming out very early in 1999. "A Dream of Death" continues to gain attention and the track "A Wrench in the Works" will be appearing on a compilation CD due out in a few months. Fireaxe is expanding its worldwide audience by way of the internet and all the people on it who love metal and spread the word around. A big 'Hello' to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time.

The Rumor Mill

The widely propagated story that Fireaxe will be releasing a Christmas album featuring covers of popular Yuletide carols with alternate lyrics is completely false. I'm not sure who started this story but Fireaxe is not busy recording such songs as "Rudolph the Dream Destroyer", "O Deathmachine", "Silent night, Unholy night", and "We wish your God a slow death". So please stop disseminating this misinformation. Thanks.

Reviews of "A Dream of Death"

A completely re-vamped version of the Fireaxe review page is accessible on the Fireaxe website. It includes all the latest reviews of "A Dream of Death" as well as all the reviews of the previous two demo tapes. The webpages which contain reviews of "A Dream of Death" have been duplicated and stored on the Fireaxe site so that visitors can experience the full beauty of those pages without worrying about stale links or slow providers. Check out the new review page.

Three new reviews of the latest Fireaxe release join the ranks of those who can appreciate the music and themes of "A Dream of Death". Here are some notable quotes from them:

Jason Christie of "Eternal Frost" e-zine.

Had the following comments:

"A complex conceptual album, you really get your money's
worth with this album. As always, the guitar work is great,
and the arrangements well thought out."

Jason also says that "Brian Voth has raised the bar for indy bands" commenting on the "gorgeous color booklet" and the overall sound and appearance of the CD. He describes Fireaxe as being "very heartfelt, passionate music" and strongly recommends the CD to anyone who can handle high register clean vocals. Once again Jason has shown the ability to appreciate music outside of his own genre (death/thrash), proving his worth as a heavy metal critic.

Azzie of "Stormwatcher" magazine (soon to have a website) makes the following comments:

"Let me just say that Brian Voth is one of the most
hard-working individuals in the underground. After the last
work of his Unholy Rapture, he attacks us with this Dream
of Death, over 70 minutes of new fucking metal! A blend of
power metal and hard rock, Fireaxe is a complete project to
say the least."

Azzie goes on to add, "Songs like 'Earthbound Goddess' are full of meaning" and "some of the riffs just rock". He makes the claim "To say the least, on A Dream of Death he has proven his worth as a metal songwriter". Azzie also remarks that, "Brian needs a drumset and a studio". This has been taken care of. Fireaxe now features a world class drum machine (the Roland R-8mkII human rhythm composer) as well as much improved recording techniques. These will be clearly evident on the new "Lovecraftian Nightmares" CD. Just a reminder that your comments and criticisms don't fall on deaf ears.

Lastly, Carlos Tavares reviews Fireaxe on his website:

"This work is made up of 10 tracks that are laboured on
the hard'n'heavy side, distinguishing itself from the ordinary by
the way its song structures are crafted."

Carlos was impressed by the quality of the CD despite the challenges of lacking state of the art recording equipment and a full band. Although Carlos didn't give the CD a ringing review, there were some very positive comments making reference to some classic metal bands such as Rush and the Scorpions. Not bad company at all.

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 although I might just put only the good things you say.

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 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 can also be found on this website.

Imelod - The Litzine of Horror and the Bizarre

A few weeks ago I received the H. P. Lovecraft Tribute issue of Imelod Litzine in the mail. It contained the latest review of the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" demo tape but I was surprised to see just how much else it contained. The magazine is chuck full of stories, poetry, music and movie reviews, art, and anything else which has a Lovecraftian theme. The most impressive part was the archiving in the litzine. The margins were crammed with URLs, computer and board games, comic books, bands, magazines, books, TV shows, and practically anything which is based around or mentions H.P. Lovecraft or his works. It's a great checklist for anyone looking to complete their personal collection of Lovecraftian memorabilia. For more information, check out the Imelod website.

Co-publisher Melanie Fischer had the following good things to say about the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" demo tape:

"The music is diverse, not limited to any one style, at times
sounding almost Rush-like, at others a touch of Vangelis, then right
into heavy riffs again.."

"'The Ancient Track' is definitely my favorite, the one song
that continuously goes through my head, and I love the looped/echoed
guitar over itself at the beginning of 'Nathicana'; sounds great and
a monumental effort to write fifteen minutes and fifteen seconds of

"On the whole, Lovecraftian Nightmares is a good listen, one
that grows on you the more you listen to it, each song with its own
distinctness that you'll remember. A definite buy, I give it 4 severed
ears out of 5."

I was surprised that the demo tape got 4 out of 5 "severed ears" considering the lack of production and polish. Perhaps the upcoming CD will get a perfect 5/5? Time will tell.

Compilation CD

From the creators of the Swedish Metal Inquisition will come a series of underground metal band compilation CDs. Johan has taken it upon himself to promote and distribute disks full of metal music by unsigned bands for which Fireaxe and many other groups are greatly appreciative. "A Wrench in the Works" will be appearing on the second CD which will be released sometime early next year. Both CDs will draw from a world wide reservoir of underground metal talent. An underground salute to Johan and company is certainly in order.

New Project Update

The new recording sessions for "Lovecraftian Nightmares" are moving along at a brisk pace. The new CD will not simply be a remastering of the old demo tape. Every song is being re-recorded with the latest technology available (at a reasonable price of course). The drums will be done with a world class drum machine. Bass guitar tracks will be added. The guitar tone will be greatly improved. And the vocals will be dramatically better than they were previously. Also, two new tracks "Whispers in the Night" and "Hounds of Tindalos" are being added to the CD. Preliminary indications are that the new stuff definitely rocks.

Among other new things, the new CD will feature the new Fireaxe logo. The style is similar but artist Kevin Dvorscak has breathed a ton of new life into it. It is extremely impressive and will definitely jump out at you. It will also be unveiled on the Fireaxe webpages sometime around the release of the new CD. Kevin also will be doing the artwork for the booklet. It looks very sharp as well. Check out his e-portfolio and feel free to throw some business his way, he's quite a master at digital effects and computer graphics as you will soon see.

The meaning of the songs - "Light of Day" and "Despair"

Some of you have written 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 very grim Fireaxe songs, "Light of Day" and "Despair".

Light of Day. This song is based around a melody and lyrics that I had been kicking around for more than a decade. There isn't much to it, having a very simple drum and rhythm guitar track and with the solos and vocal melodies being almost identical. However, the track captures the feeling of the lyrics, that of a long, lonely, and ultimately doomed quest, showing that songs don't need to be complex to be good.

The song is about life itself and taking the road less traveled. The refrain "Light of day cannot light my way, down the road I have gone" is something I have felt my whole life. The road less traveled is exactly that, less traveled. One finds very little company when one shakes loose from the bonds of conformity. Often it is a difficult struggle, you face more obstacles than most others do and are so often left up to your own devices to solve your problems. It can be rewarding, but most of the time it seems like the rewards are too few and far between. Most of the time it feels like a dark and lonely quest.

The final line of the single verse, "cutting through the endless jungle, closing in on certain death" is a grim statement about the inevitability of death. It puts the quest in perspective. In the end you will have nothing to show for your struggles. All is consumed by the reaper. The implied meaning is that the quest itself must be its own reward. This meaning applies whether you view taking the road less traveled as being a decision you made or a sentence that has been passed upon you. So far, Fireaxe has been a rewarding quest for me, enough so that I choose to proceed.

Despair. Two things made this song work well, one was the three voice harmony, the other was the switching between clean and heavily distorted guitar work. The three voice harmony goes well with the poem. The first three lines of each verse build upon a similar theme each with increasing intensity. By adding in a new voice at a higher pitch than the previous one, the intensity increase in the poem is captured. For the concluding fourth line of each verse, just a single high voice is used which drops down to capture the surrender of the writer to despair. The verses come at the listener in waves, building up and letting go, and gives the feel of the ebb and flow of the tide. This effect is strengthened by the guitar sound. After every other verse the song goes into a heavily distorted section which represents the depths of despair. The song rises out of those depths and the singing pulls the listener out again, only to return at the end of the verse.

The last line of this song is the clincher. All the instruments and other voices stop after the first three lines of the last verse and one voice remains to chant out the final line:

"And beyond the groans and grating,
of abhorrent life is waiting,
sweet oblivion culminating,
all the years of fruitless quest."

The single voice sounds desperate and alone and trails off into silence. It sounds as if the very song itself ran out of time and passed away quietly into the night.

This song was quite a challenge to pull off using a multi- track recorder with only 4 tracks. There were six instruments which needed to be captured. I ended up having to put the drums and both guitars all on a single track with the vocals on the three remaining tracks. The trouble with doing it that way is that you have to mix all the instruments together before the vocals are recorded which makes it harder to figure out where the levels should be. I made my best guess and I think it turned out rather well.

The new recording for "Despair" will not have that limitation since I am using an 8 track recorder. Another big plus for this song is the new drum machine. By using some of the features of the machine I was able to get it to sound a lot like a clock, which adds to the despair. The waves of despair wash over the listener while the ticking clock is a steady reminder that time (and life) is slowly slipping away.

The Future

Re-recording the songs on the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" demo tape, adding a couple more Lovecraftian poems set to music, and putting them on a CD is the current 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 are two poems that one Fireaxe listener has submitted that are excellent and that I have promised to set to music, one of which is already complete. I am pleased to announce that "Whispers in the Night" and "Hounds of Tindalos" by Octavio Ramos will be included on the Lovecraftian Nightmares CD. Recording on this CD is halfway complete and it is shaping up to be quite an impressive work.

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 and chaos 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 commit all manner of atrocity to support 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 radical ideologies, explore the emotions which typify extremism, and study the seeds of violence which are prevalent in our society. The CD will be titled "Food for the Gods" meaning that WE are the food for the gods. Any extremist ideology is effectively "God" and people are slaughtered or enslaved in that God's name (i.e. the ideology feeds on the bodies of the slain and beaten down). The CD will fit loosely around the themes in "A Dream of Death" but will explore the more violent aspects of belief in depth. If you ever wondered what drives a person to kill and commit horrible acts, "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. Thus I try to avoid such diversions. 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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