The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 2.4

June 2, 1999

"The drums of the jungle in ecstasy boom,
And summon the chosen to torture and doom;"
- Fireaxe (H.P. Lovecraft) "Beyond Zimbabwe"

The chaos of the rhythmically beating drums draws closer and closer. The fear grows in the darkness, silent and intangible, as it waits for the stars to align...

Unfortunately the stars aren't quite right yet. The good news is that all the problems which plagued the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" project have been solved. The last few songs have been recorded save for the finishing touches on the epic "Nathicana". Soon there will be mixing, then mastering, and then the inevitable madness. The impatient will have to wait a little longer for the earth to be cleared off.

Fireaxe's presence in the global metal underground continues to grow. A very strong new metal magazine has appeared down under in Australia which covers the internet metal scene, and Fireaxe, very well. Also, a friend of Fireaxe who is also a Lovecraft enthusiast is in a band which is on a U.S. tour this summer. A big 'Hello' to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. This is the Fireaxe newsletter.

"Musically Incorrect" reveals the global metal underground

Simon Lukic is one of many metal fans frustrated by big media's control of the world marketplace. It's been said that metal is dead. How can it be dead if there are so many fans and bands all over the world? The truth is that metal is not dead, it is scattered across the world and in need of a medium to pull it all together. It appears that the internet could be the answer.

But the internet is large, chaotic, and not immune to the influence of big media itself, which is why a guidebook to finding your way around it can be very useful. Simon's new metal magazine is exactly that.

In the 62 pages of "Musically Incorrect" issue #1, Simon does a great job of putting together news, reviews, and interviews covering the world-wide underground internet metal scene. Bands from Japan, U.S.A., Europe, and his native Australia are investigated in depth. Simon's interviews are long and detailed and give the reader a good feel of what each band is all about. At $5 per issue the magazine is a great deal.

Visit the "Musically Incorrect" site or contact Simon Lukic by e-mail.

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.

Destiny's End goes on tour

A couple years ago I met a guy a lot like me. His name is Perry Grayson and he too is a guitarist who loves power/prog metal, Al DiMeola, and H.P. Lovecraft. But despite a lot of similarities we never hooked up to form a band. However, we still keep in touch.

A few months ago he joined a band named Destiny's End which had just signed with one of the few remaining metal labels, Metal Blade. Teamed with powerful vocalist James Rivera and a strong supporting cast Perry has helped this band become a force to be reckoned with. I had the chance to see his band play live and in my opinion they surpassed the headliner Flotsam and Jetsam.

The strong suit of Destiny's End is talent. It doesn't take long before you realize that each member of the band is a great musician in his own right. Rivera's clean vocals are on par with the greats of the 80's, the rhythm section provides a ton of raw energy, and Perry's guitar mastery never lets you rest. Perhaps the best part of their premier CD is when Perry breaks into an Al DiMeola-esqe guitar solo half way into "Breathe Deep the Dark". It struck me as being a damn cool departure.

Anyway, Destiny's End is a signed band, which means that they have their own channels for promotion, but since Perry is a friend of mine I'll insert this one plug for Destiny's End

Perry also runs Tsathoggua Press which specializes in rarer Lovecraftian circle authors' works, especial Frank Belknap Long. So I'll plug his publishing house too.

"Lovecraftian Nightmares" draws ever closer to the waking world

Plagued by equipment failures the project stood still. The vocal track wasn't recording. Someone or someTHING was trying to silence the truth. Earthly repairmen could not fix the problems and so I sought help from another realm. I pulled forth the dreaded Necronomicon I kept boarded up inside the walls of my apartment and searched for a spell to banish the spirits which were possessing my studio. I found an appropriate passage and read the invocation aloud. Nothing. I read another, and another. Nothing still. Angry and frustrated I read the passages to summon Yog Sothoth, Hastur the Unspeakable, and Shub Niggurath. Nothing appeared. Then I realized that I'd been sold one of the numerous fake Necronomicons. I cursed and slammed the tomb against my multi-track recorder. To my astonishment the machine began to work perfectly once again. I marveled at the power of the Necronomicon and placed it on the shelf next to the bible and a few other equally useful books.

Seriously, after a lot of head scratching, part replacing, and brainstorming, the repairmen and I fixed all the problems with the recording machine. I have to take my hat off to Siavash Rahmani of VideoComTech in Orange. Instead of charging me for all the repairs after the first failed one, or washing his hands of the whole matter, he busted his ass for me. When he couldn't track down the problem he found someone who could. He's a great guy in a world that is very short of them. So even though it seemed like a nightmare, at the time it could have been a lot worse. He'll get due credit on the CD.

Look for information on how to order the new CD in the next Burning Blade, or possibly sooner.

The meaning of the songs - "The New God" and "Another Dream"

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 continue to look at the songs off the Fireaxe CD "A Dream of Death" with the third and fourth tracks, "The New God" and "Another Dream".

The New God. Dreams are sold on a daily basis. Advertising is all about selling a dream. Ads are often little dreams which try to convince you that your self image, life satisfaction, or empowerment will be greatly improved by buying the product. They aren't all lies, but the advertisers care little about results. Sales are the most important thing. So if they can convince someone that their product has improved that person's life it matters little what has actually occurred.

The New God doesn't deal with the little dreams, it deals with the big dreams, and there is little difference between little dreams and big dreams other than the magnitude. Whereas little dreams are like a new car which makes you feel young and agile when you drive it, or like a soft drink which makes you feel vibrant and alive when you drink it, big dreams seek to make you feel like you have a purpose in life and try to permeate every fiber of your being. Just like the little dreams, results are unimportant in big dreams. If you can be convinced that the dream has improved your life you will keep chasing it. And just like the little dreams where you can't get your money back when your life doesn't improve, big dreams offer no refunds either, only instead of being out a few dollars when they let you down, you're out a considerable chunk of your life.

"The New God" attacks three such big dreams. I use the term "god" to refer to the big dream since I see little difference between them in practice. The god of many religions is an imaginary being in the sky who the believer must appease to find salvation. If you follow the god's rules then you receive this wondrous reward. The same basic theme works for other big dreams. If you jump through all these hoops, then someday you will benefit greatly. If course, there are no guarantees, and often your chances of getting your reward are very slim if not zero altogether. But as long as you have hope, you will keep chasing the dream.

To capture this basic theme I needed an energetic set of rhythms that built to a peak and then collapsed back down to where it began. This flow symbolizes the stages of the dream; the excitement at inception, the glory of embracing it, and the disappointment of seeing it let you down. Each of the three sections of the song starts off with a heavy, blues style riff, with each line ending in a quick guitar solo that increases the tension in the song. The feel of the song smacks of grim determination as the protagonist tells of his grand ambitions. The second verse of each section builds up to the powerful chorus which echoes the theme of each of the dreams. The third verse descends into frustration and anger, and the end of each section reaches a low point where the protagonist swears that he won't be fooled again and reloads to pursue the next new dream.

The first dream in "The New God" is religion. I've personally never been a convert to any religion like how the song goes. I fell out of belief in my religion of upbringing years ago and never looked back. But I recall having the following experience which I've learned is surprisingly common:

"Then one day I was reading in the bible.
I came upon a passage that meant so much to me.
The way it made me feel was truly divine.
I had seen the truth and it had set me free."

For me the feeling didn't last long, but I've heard the stories of many who were caught up in the dream of heaven only to have it all come crashing down when they realized that it was far from rational. Your reward never has to be delivered. There's no proof of anyone ever being saved, and you'll be dead before you know that what you believed your whole life was a lie.

The second dream in "The New God" is one I did buy into for a while. When you get hired out of school and someone sticks that first big paycheck in your hand you tend to become a believer pretty fast, only this time instead of following a god's rules to be saved, you work your ass off for promotions and more money. You get hooked on the dream of being the boss someday, of having a big salary, and of having a bunch of people working under you. You believe that you'll have the tools to do what you want to do but that never seems to happen. To get ahead you have to do what others want, not what you want. You sell out to their desires ever so slowly until one day you're far away from the person you wanted to become. And just like the dream of salvation, the reward never has to be delivered. Although few have become rich, the vast majority remain relatively poor with others enjoying the fruits of their labors.

The third dream in "The New God" is the hardest one for many to swallow. The few rebels who see through the bullshit dreams of others will often get caught up in a dream of their own making. They seek their own path to success and put a lot of their own blood, sweat and tears into the attempt to get there. The dream of self driven success is still just an empty promise made to one's self in the hopes that it is not empty. I'm as familiar with that process as anyone. I've built hundreds of dreams for myself in my lifetime and worked hard to make them come true. In the beginning Fireaxe was just another one of those dreams, but that was back in the days when my goal was rock super-stardom, which is bullshit in and of itself. But it was the image of the money, fame, and the rock-n-roll lifestyle that kept me practicing, playing, and trying to make myself better than I was the day before. Was the huge investment worth it? I would say no. I do enjoy playing and making CDs, but it so often seems that what I get out of it is not enough compared to what goes into it. That probably surprises a lot of you, but it's how I feel.

It was eerie how during the arduous and frustrating process of trying to get my recordings to measure up to modern music production standards the whole process was so much like what I had written:

"I need this and I need that,
and I need someone to show me where it's at.
One more step, one more try,
one more change and I'll be ready to fly."

I know now that if I had been doing it all clinging to the dream of having the CD launch my music career that I would have been gravely disappointed. There's no telling how many hours I would have spent trying to improve the CD or how much money I would have invested in the project. Being realistic about things helped me out a lot, but it was hard to resist the siren's call of the dream.

I know a lot of people would raise issue with me about the theme of "The New God". I seem to be saying that all dreams are bullshit and that everyone who believes in one is a deluded fool. To them all I can say is "hear me out and give my perspective a chance". If the world is really as I make it out to be in "A Dream of Death" would you be willing to accept it? Could you believe that all our hopes and dreams are merely shields that keep us from seeing a reality which is too heartless and cruel to bear? And if you can't accept it, doesn't that begin to prove my point?

Another Dream. This theme of this song is very similar to "The New God" but told with a completely different emotional perspective. In both songs the protagonist struggles with dreams. Dreams offer the promise of a glorious future and spur him on, but they also let him down with crushing defeats. In "The New God" the protagonist is always pressing onward towards the goals of the dream. It is energetic and captures both excitement and anger. In "Another Dream" the protagonist is coming to the revelation that dreams are both hope and despair and that you can't have one without the other. His energy drains away, leaving him to lament the loss of hope and to sink deeply into depression.

The opening acappella sets the mood for the song. The vocals start high and descend, reflecting the collapse of the dream. The music begins and is slow and empty with the vocals complimenting the morose tone. The chorus kicks in with distorted guitars which symbolize the intensity of the pain that the Protagonist is suffering through. It recedes only to build once again in the final chorus. The solos in the song are among my favorites. They aren't fast or difficult or breathtaking, but I feel that they capture the mood perfectly. Everything builds to the final chorus. The lyrics capture the duality of dreams, the promise and the pain, the hope and the tragedy. The verses trade back and forth, fusing the two ideas into one:

"Another dream that ends in pain,
another dream that keeps me sane,
another dream that lets me go so far away.
Another dream that kills the light,
another dream dispels the night,
another dream arrives in time to save the day."

In the final lament the protagonist declares that dreams are lies. They promise hope but deliver despair.

To be honest, some dreams do come true. Some people live out their dreams and never experience any downside to believing in them. They are the lucky few. And a lot of small dreams do come true for a lot of us which keeps us pursuing other dreams. I would have to say that recording the CD "A Dream of Death" was a dream come true since it was something I always wanted to accomplish. So where do I get off writing a song that says that all dreams are lies?

First of all, keep in mind that the story is being told from the perspective of the protagonist. He reaches the conclusion that all dreams are false and that idea propels him through the rest of the story. For the protagonist, every dream he believed in collapsed into a pile of rubble and left him in more pain than before. For him, dreams were the only escape from a reality of pain and suffering, but as his dreams failed one after the other, his hope for the future grew smaller and his pain in the present grew larger. Not everyone descends into inescapable despair, if we did then the world would be a lot worse than it is. Some people live their dreams, some keep chasing them, and some resign themselves to their lot in life. But there are some people who discover that they cannot live within the system any longer and they break away from it for good. They see no choice but to destroy what has brought them so much pain. "A Dream of Death" is the story of one such person.

(to be continued)

The Future

The release of "Lovecraftian Nightmares" is imminent with the end of June looking very probable.

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.

In light of the recent Columbine High School incident, and the following Conyers, Georgia shooting (a city one Fireaxe listener hails from), it's become apparent that the eventual release of "Food for the Gods" might meet with a lot of objections. The CD will glorify violence in parts, it will be graphic, it will be intense, and it will capture all manner of 'negative' emotions. I feel that there is simply no other way to approach the subject matter. One song planned for the CD will be an examination of the explosive suicide trend which has swept not only through our high schools, but through the general public as well. One thing I could do is to scrap my plans for the CD and produce something more socially acceptable. I won't. Another thing I could do is put up a false righteousness and claim that the CD is really against violence. It isn't. What I will do is stay true to my concept and produce the CD that I envision. In other words, "Damn the false prophets and the true believers, full speed ahead!".

The opposition to violence in art and media is truly hypocritical. Watching Bill Clinton proclaiming that "violence is not the answer" while at the same time bombing the crap out of Serbia and Kosovo is truly the pinnacle of cognitive dissonance. He says one thing and does another. If there is any message coming from the White House, it is that when you can't get what you want, violence is the solution. Columbine is only a reflection of the big picture. The big picture is what I will attempt to reveal in "Food for the 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. 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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