The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 2.6

Oct 4, 1999

"Their hidden outposts brood,
upon a million worlds of space.
Abhorred by every living race,
Yet scatheless in their solitude."
- Fireaxe (H.P. Lovecraft) "The Outpost"

I think I've overdone it on the horror factor.

It's been two months since the release of the latest Fireaxe CD "Lovecraftian Nightmares" and orders for it have been somewhat slow. I can only take this as a sign that the terrifying nature of the music and lyrics have struck fear deeply into the hearts of some ardent Fireaxe listeners and they are now too scared to order a copy of the CD. So I'll try to allay those fears.

I've read all of Lovecraft's prose and most of his poetry and I have come to the conclusion that it's all fiction. That is not to say that it isn't greatly entertaining or equally frightening, but the rumors that you may have heard about people going mad after being exposed to Lovecraft's material are unfounded. Although I personally am not a good example, I can vouch for many people who have read Lovecraft and listened to "Lovecraftian Nightmares" and who are still very sane. So by all means order your copy of the new Fireaxe CD without fear nor delay. Furthermore, if everything that Lovecraft has written is true, it won't make a difference whether you order it or not because you're doomed either way. So you might as well dive in head first.

A big 'Hello' to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. This is the Fireaxe newsletter.

Early reviews of "Lovecraftian Nightmares"

The reviews I've been receiving about the latest Fireaxe CD have been very positive to say the least. Almost all of the complaints that people had about the previous CD, such as production, vocals, sound quality, etc. have disappeared and been replaced by a glowing appreciation for the CD all around. But don't just take my word for it, here are some comments others have made:

"I received your CD and played it. The production values
on the CD package and the CD itself are spectacular. I own an
original "Lovecraftian Nightmares" cassette; the CD completely
blows it away." - Octavio Ramos

"(Lovecraftian Nightmares) was marvelous, I especially
liked The Ancient Track, I found it very beautiful and it fit the
poem well, and Hounds of Tindalos, which cheered up my math
studies." - Jarmo Tolvanen

"I wanted to let you know what I think of the new CD-
it is absolutely kick-ass!" - Georgia Papadakis

"The music is like I have mentioned before power metal
that reminds me a bit of Iced Earth. It has the same dark feeling
and it sounds big. If this CD had the same production qualities as
an Iced Earth album then it would blow away a lot of people."
- Bruno Van de Velde

Well, if I had the same studio and budget as Iced Earth, I can guarantee that I could blow away a lot of people. But for now I have to make do with what I have. If you can't enjoy music that wasn't recorded in a $1000/day studio then it's your loss. But for those of us who grew up rocking to music pressed onto vinyl (egad!), the issue isn't sound quality, but song quality.

How to order "Lovecraftian Nightmares"

Order your copy of the second Fireaxe CD "Lovecraftian Nightmares" 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 "Lovecraftian Nightmares" to the following address. Make sure to 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, a picture of yours truly in his studio, and some information about the CD which can also be found on this website.

On the verge of going digital

I'm always looking to improve the recording methods for Fireaxe. Although the Yamaha MT8XII is a good quality machine, it has shortcomings which I would like to overcome. The best option seems to be to go digital with a unit like the Roland VS-1680, but perhaps the best option is to record music on a personal computer. I've done a lot of looking and asking and have determined that a good way to create a digital studio is with the following set-up:

Macintosh G3
MOTU sound card
Cubase Professional Studio software
A 9Gb firewire hard drive dedicated to music
Some kind of CD burner

I've already got a G3, but the other stuff is going to cost a few thousand dollars. Before I shell out that kind of cash for something that may not run at all let alone do what I need it to do I'd like to get as much feedback as possible. Thus, I am asking anyone out there who is familiar with digital music creation if my studio concept will do what I need it to do. So if you know more than a little bit about digital home studios, or if you know someone that does, send me some e-mail. You'll be helping out the next Fireaxe project tremendously.

The meaning of the songs - "Unholy Rapture" and "I Am the Destroyer of Dreams"

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 fifth and sixth tracks, "Unholy Rapture" and "I Am the Destroyer of Dreams".

Unholy Rapture. This is without a doubt the most intense song on the CD "A Dream of Death". It is also my personal favorite. To some this song marks the point where the protagonist goes off the deep end and becomes completely insane. That's partly true, but to characterize anyone who thinks or acts out of step with the rest of the world as insane is to limit one's own understanding of the world. When we refuse to look at something because it makes us feel uncomfortable or afraid, and we instead explain it away with terms that don't truly explain what it is we fear, we depart from reality and create our own safe little fantasy world. It is escaping from one's fantasy world and accepting the cold hard reality that is at the heart of the song "Unholy Rapture". The song is not about a descent into madness, but about an awakening from a maddening dream.

People familiar with Fireaxe will recognize the name of this song as being the same as the first Fireaxe demo tape, one which contains such songs as "Godslayer" and "DeathMachine". The term "Unholy Rapture" describes a mixing of diametrically opposed emotions that stems from discovering some awful truth. I described it on the Fireaxe website as follows:

"It is not a feeling of sheer joy, nor is it one of crushing agony, but an overwhelming combination of both. The incredible wonder of discovering the truth juxtaposed with the damning horror of the destruction of what one used to believe, and what others still do. It is the excitement of discovering a new direction mixed with the awful knowing that you can no longer go back, nor be pure again, no matter how strong your desire to do so. It is the awful price of knowledge"

The more I thought about it, the more that the term "Unholy Rapture" seemed to be a perfect description of the emotional state of the song. The protagonist is locked in an intense internal struggle to rid himself of the dream that brings him both joy and agony. After realizing that all of the dreams that he had chased during his life were bullshit (see "The New God"), he has now turned his critical eye on his most beloved dream, that of his earthbound goddess. He knows that the only way to be free is to destroy all of his dreams but he can't seem to bring himself to make the final cut. Throughout the song he builds up his resolve but at times his laments and regrets hold him back. The music pitches back and forth as he teeters on the edge. In the song's final climax, he symbolically kills his dream:

"With my blade at her throat,
I feel my body shake with fear.
But I must be strong,
She must die, if I am to live."

I think that the music captures the emotions perfectly. The song begins with ponderous bass guitar playing, giving the listener the feeling of impending doom. The opening lyrics reveal the conflicting emotions of the protagonist. One voice is full of pain and desperation while the other is full of resolve and determination. The voice of strength wins out and the music breaks suddenly into slow power metal which builds to one crescendo, moves into a more steady rocking rhythm, and departs with a second crescendo. Then the music becomes soft and delicate as the lyrics portray the laments of the protagonist. The music shifts back and forth between power metal and soft chords mirroring the struggle of the protagonist and building to the final climax. The rhythms and solo in the final sequence are as intense as the protagonists' act as he plunges his blade into the heart of his most precious dream. As the final harmonic fades away the intensity also fades. The protagonist's closing words "It is done" not only put an end to the first half of the CD, but set the stage for the second half, which is when things really get wild.

I Am the Destroyer of Dreams. If there is one good song to crank up to full volume on "A Dream of Death" it is this one. The opening power chords and screamed battle hymn set the mood for the rest of the CD. I don't know how many of you have sung along with this one, probably not many, but I've gotten a big kick out of doing so. Especially the second half of the first verse:

"I am immune to the pleasures of this rotted world.
And to the pain, they must inflict upon me,
So I can learn to be like one of them."
"No fucking way."

Which marks the only time in the history of Fireaxe where the F-word gets used. I think that the usage couldn't be more appropriate in the context, nor could any other word capture the feeling of the song more succinctly. I know that some bands use the word 'fuck' so often it is as if they had Tourette's syndrome while others stay far away from all swear words. But like anything else, there's a time and a place to say 'fuck', and in my opinion the above verse was one of those places. And if you don't agree with me, well, fuck you.

Later in the opening monologue the protagonist talks about how he has "turned the ax upon (himself) and let it burn," which alludes to the intentional destruction of his personal dreams. The following line "and now it's your turn", reveals his intentions to turn the same critical eye (or symbolically an ax) upon the dreams of others. The protagonist has gone through a great deal of soul searching, and after believing in dream after dream only to see each and every one of them fall apart he realizes that what he is really good at is destroying dreams. Since living in a world where others are disillusioned by the dreams that have caused him so much pain is intolerable, he decides to destroy the dreams that keep the world in a nightmarish cycle of denial.

The music switches from power metal to a faster double ax attack with a charged solo that builds to a frantic climax. The solo is one of my favorites on the CD. The mood of the rhythm guitars matches the solo guitar perfectly throughout the entire passage. It keeps getting more and more intense until it finally stops, giving the listener a chance to breathe. The song breaks into a slow part where the protagonist declares his new identity. It's in the middle of the following verse where the music switches from being calmly sung and undistorted to being sung with a low raspy growl backed by heavy distortion. The change in feel of the two lyrical lines emphasize the different emotions in the verse. The first line is a calm acceptance of fate, while the second is a venomous declaration of war:

"I am a man and I know where I stand,
and all the answers to who I am.
I am the beast and I'm ready to feast,
devour the world, piece by piece."

"I am the destroyer of dreams."

But despite the contrasting styles, the vocal melody and rhythm guitar parts remain the same, appropriately giving the feel of something horrifying erupting unexpectedly from serenity.

From there the music builds to a second but less energetic solo followed by slow power chords similar to the opening verses of the song. The protagonist proclaims his power to destroy any dreams that anyone cares to reveal to him.

The final verse is the clincher:

"The dream of death is the only dream that's real."

So is the protagonist truly insane? He sees that the only true future is one where everyone rots in the ground forever, yet all around him people live in denial of this fact and instead conjure vast fantasy worlds to insulate themselves from it. Worse still, he sees everyone sacrificing their lives for the promise of a better world in the future, a better world which never seems to come. He sees the world trapped into believing the dreams that he has escaped from. And so he has decided to destroy those dreams so that all can escape from the nightmarish cycle of unfulfilled promises. Maybe he's sane and maybe he isn't, but as we find out later, it doesn't really matter whether he is sane or not.

The Future

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 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 "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud as you can as often as you can. It's your only defense against THEM. Be warned, they come through angles. Note that the CD is round. Are your speaker cabinets square?
  • 6. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and other fiction authors. None of it is real, at least that's what I'm going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening to the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" CD too much.
  • 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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