The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 2.3

Mar 31, 1999

"Oh great was the sin of my spirit,
and great was the reach of its doom.
Not the pity of heaven can cheer it,
nor can respite be found in the tomb.
Down the infinite eons come beating
the wings of unmerciful gloom."
- Fireaxe (H.P. Lovecraft) "Nemesis"

Good news and bad news for Fireaxe this time around. The good news is that "A Dream of Death" is enjoying more good reviews, positive feedback, and sales. Fireaxe has also made a deal with an internet based distributor to sell a few mail order CDs. Also, the entire CD is now available through the internet in the form of MP3s, and the newly mastered version is generating a lot of good comments as being a cut above the older version.

The bad news is that work on the Lovecraftian Nightmares CD has slowed to a crawl due to forces beyond my control. It seems that someone, or something, is conspiring against the release of this project. But have no fear, I can put down what I have summoned up. The CD will be completed and released no matter what plane of existence I end up on.

A big 'Hello' to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. Also, if you haven't subscribed to the Burning Blade for a full year, be aware that an April Fool's version of this newsletter will be headed your way very soon. In that edition I like to poke fun at myself, the music industry, and just about everything else. Enjoy it.

"A Dream of Death" 160kbs MP3s available on the net - free!

Fireaxe enthusiast Jarmo Tolvanen has invested his time, effort, and quite a bit of disk space to make Fireaxe MP3s of the entire CD "A Dream of Death" available to anyone with a modem and a copy of winamp or some other MP3 player. You are more than welcome to download, play, burn to CD, distribute, or do whatever you want to with those files. The only thing you can't do is sell them for a profit. If you do I'll find out and I'll make life very painful for you. I have connections that would make Randolph Carter quite envious (and rather terrified).

To find the MP3s, visit the Fireaxe users page

I've downloaded them to my computer at work so I can listen to "The New God" whenever it's appropriate.

How to order "A Dream of Death"

Order your copy of "A Dream of Death" by doing the following:

  • 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.

"A Dream of Death" finds a distributor

Fireaxe's debut CD "A Dream of Death" is now being distributed byRestless and Wild Imports, an internet and mail order distributor. They carry tons of CDs from the US and Europe and have a well laid out website. Check it out if you are interested in picking up some rare or hard to find metal CDs.

One thing which annoys me about them is that they put the price of "A Dream of Death" quite a bit higher than what I had anticipated. I was trying to get them down to $8.50 from the $10 that the owner had quoted to me. Then I saw it for sale on the site for $11.99. Ouch! That's almost triple what I sold them the CDs for. Maybe I can goad him into lowering that price with a little e-mail and this newsletter. If not then he gets no more copies of the CD.

Anyway, I know the score. Someone in the music business lied to me? Say it ain't so.

A Nightmare of Lovecraftian Proportions

Work on the new project has ground to a halt. This is not my doing. Someone, or someTHING, has conspired to block the release of the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" CD. Here's what's going on. I take my 8-track recorder to the repair shop. It gets fixed. I take it home. It works good for a while but then the same problem keeps coming back. It's like a nightmare that repeats over and over and I can't wake up. The eerie part is that it is the vocal track which will no longer record. Someone doesn't want the truth to be told. To make it even creepier, the song I am trying to record but can't due to equipment failure is called "Nemesis". Hmmm.

Anyone know any good repair shops which can deal with problems of that nature? I'd do it myself but my copy of the Necronomicon has mysteriously disappeared...

The meaning of the songs - "The Rack" and "Earthbound Goddess"

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 begin to look at the songs off the Fireaxe CD "A Dream of Death" starting with the first two tracks, "The Rack" and "Earthbound Goddess".

The Rack. This is one of the most intense songs on the CD. It's meant to be that way. Few songs really capture the Fireaxe sound and feel better than "The Rack". It's fast and it's slow, it pounds and it lets up, and it explores the dark side of life that most of us would like to forget. A lot of us look back on our childhood as a time when everything was carefree and simple. For the most part mine was like that too. I wasn't sexually abused or tortured or anything like that, but there were times when I felt myself being forced into doing things and becoming someone that was completely against who I was. Slowly but surely the pressure was applied and increased until I finally conformed into the somewhat grotesque person that I am today. Why do we look back on our childhood as being so wonderful and carefree? It's because as adults our lives have become fraught with stress, responsibilities, pressures to succeed, high expectations, and all manner of things which we must do or else. I personally think it's a cruel thing to do to a human being, to replace all that is pleasing and tangible with conditional promises and dreams. We get so little in return. But if our society is to operate at the breakneck pace it's going at, we need to be trained to forgo as many pleasures as possible and concentrate on the work at hand. Not that we aren't thrown a bone now and then for our good work or are allowed to indulge to excess to forget the pressures we're under. But the bulk of our time seems to be spent waiting for relief and finding little.

For the ones who fight back there lies only more pain. I'm one of those people. I didn't conform to expectations as easily as others did. I fought the system. I tried to break free of it and I have the scars to prove that I tried. The song sums it up all too well:

"My anger always building, and tears me up inside,
but I cannot release it, for every time I tried.
I was met with hatred, and taken to a longer rack,
and drawn till I felt nothing, and they had broken my back."

The one thing that I learned was that there is no compromise. You are forced into the mold whether you fit or not. The less you fit, the more it hurts, and when you fight back you get met with an even stronger force. Eventually you are forced into submission. There is no true escape, but you can escape within your mind, and thus the dream is born.

Writing the music was a challenge. I needed to capture a lot of different feelings in the song. I needed aggressive parts to drive home the torture aspects and I needed powerful parts to capture the feeling of surrendering to a superior force. The chorus ties it all together, and is pretty dark as well. I used a lot of different riffs to mimic the emotional turmoil in the song. The feel is pretty close to what I envisioned and strove to attain.

The centerpiece of the song is the 2 minute long guitar solo which spans five different song segments. I think it's the best Fireaxe solo I've ever done. My favorite part is at the climax when the rhythm shifts into the chorus and the solo guitar starts to play two note chords. All the instruments are screaming the chorus in unison. To me it's quite a moment, everything coming together perfectly. The ending works well also. The final cry "I must escape!" where all the instruments fall away and the voice cuts through into nothingness can put a chill up my spine sometimes. It's a great lead in to the next song which is about the protagonist escaping into his mind...

Earthbound Goddess. This is a song I had wanted to write for a long time. I came up with the chorus when I was a teenager (about 12+ years ago) and it never left me. I felt I was destined to record the song. When I was in my teens I was like a lot of other guys who couldn't say the right things or do what it took to get girls to like them. Part of that was probably my hideous appearance, but at least I wasn't going bald then. In any event, my desire for love and my inability to find it made for a far from pleasant adolescence. Instead of being able to drown my sorrows in the comfort of a lover my attempts just became another source of pain. So the only comfort I found was in the arms of a dream.

The girl I spent my youthful dreams with appears on the cover of the CD. She's beautiful, soft, and loves only me. The sadness she shows is all a part of the dream. My desire was to rescue her from overwhelming emotional distress and show her a world of love and caring. I would win her over like a knight charging in to save her. That may sound silly or at least done to death, but it's how I felt back then so I felt I needed to be true to those emotions to tell the tale. Here's my version of the "white knight" tale:

"Hiding away from chilling winds and driving storms.
Cold and afraid, I did my best to keep her warm.
And slowly she turned, and opened up her yearning eyes.
I lost all my fear, and chased away the madness from the skies."

The music is mostly light and dreamlike and filled with warmth. The chorus adds some heavily distorted guitar which, looking back on it, probably should have been less distorted. Regardless of that the impact of the solos is there. It captures the strength of the protagonist's resolve and love for his dream girl. I know the singing isn't perfect in this song, but I tried as hard as I could, and I think that aspect works as well as if it had been sung perfectly.

In the end the protagonist leaves his dream girl, not for another woman, but for another dream. She has helped him through the difficult times and now he's ready to go out into the real world and fight again with renewed strength. It is there that he meets "The New God".

(to be continued)

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 almost 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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