A Dream of Death
It's a shame when all of the good words have been used, because they lose their
power. Similarly, compliments like "words fail when trying to convey how good
this is..." or "I know I've said it before, but THIS time I mean it..." just
lose their impact. And it's a shame, because Fireaxe is one band that deserves
the highest praise, in my opinion, so in an effort to really convey why I think
this band is so great let me just say this: music becomes art when it aspires to
and achieves the artistic ideal of communicating feelings and emotions from the
artist to the listener, and on that score Brian Voth (the sole member of
Fireaxe) is a true artist because his music has touched me deeply like no music
has in a LONG fucking time.
Enough heady talk; down to specifics: Fireaxe, as I said before, is the one-man
project of guitarist/bassist/vocalist/songwriter/drum programmer Brian Voth.
The overall style is heavy metal in the most 'traditional' sense, in that it
harks back to the glory days of Judas Priest and the like, but it is much more
epic in scope and quite progressive in song writing and execution. The songs are
quite long and involved, going through several mood/feel changes. The writing
is very intricate - the way riffs develop into one another and help the songs
flow naturally from section to section (or, more properly, mood to mood), the
layering of guitar parts, vocal parts, the especially good lead guitar work...
everything is thought out and calculated for the ultimate end of serving the
song. It's hard to believe this is all the work of just one person, because it
sounds so HUGE - but not in the traditional sense. Because this is the work of
just one person (recording at home on an 8-track with a drum machine, running
direct... details are in the CD and on the website), the production may seem lo-
fi to some, which appears at odds with the clean, polished sound the songs seem
to be written for, but that doesn't matter. The music sounds huge because of
the great attention to detail Brian has put into this stuff.
And I STILL haven't talked directly about the album "A Dream of Death". Bear
"A Dream of Death" is Brian's third release, the first on CD. It's a 10 song,
73 minute concept album about a futuristic society and a rebel within it.
Of course, it can also be seen as a metaphor for this shitty world we live in.
The songs develop the tale of the protagonist through his growth, struggle, and
eventual death at the hands of the mechanistic society of his world. The young
are trained and broken on "The Rack", the only relief from which are dreams
(which are unknowingly crafted for the people by the evil....well, you'll
see...). He goes from dream to dream, believing in dream after dream, only to
have each one shatter, shown to be the illusion it is - love, financial
security, religion... Eventually, he comes to a state of "Unholy Rapture", when
he realizes that, in destroying dreams, he destroys hope, but he also destroys
the possibility of being hurt by that dream's non-fulfillment. Eventually, he
declares himself "The Destroyer of Dreams" and goes around destroying the dreams
of others, freeing them from the mental enslavement of the dream-maker (who?
I'll get to that...). Eventually, he is captured by the minions of the dream
maker and taken to face it. The Dream-Maker is an intelligent computer which
was created by humanity to make life easier for people; however, as it made life
easier, society stagnated, so the computer realized that it had to CREATE strife
to make people unhappy, so that they would rebel, destroy the old dream, build a
new one, and thus be more productive (and, ironically, more enslaved) - and so
the computer created the protagonist to act as "A Wrench in the Works", to
destroy the dreams of the current society to make future life better for all.
So what happens to the Protagonist? You'll have to listen and see....
Throughout the whole album the music is carefully crafted to help mirror the
moods of the protagonist - the frustration of being broken and the alternating
periods of torture and release while waiting for more are captured in the
ten-minute plus opener "The Rack"; the clean-chord strumming and mournful
melodies of "Earthbound Goddess" show his yearning for love lost; "The New God"
contrasts the vigor of pursuing a dream (via powerful, strutting rhythms) with
the dismay of having wasted all that work when it turns out to be a lie (with
tense, syncopated thrashing riffs); the feeling of power and fury is caught in
the simply breakneck-paced, steamroller-on-speed riffing in "I am the Destroyer
of Dreams"; finally, in one of the greatest musical strokes on the album, the
climbing key-modulations in "Wrench in the Works" mirror the unfolding of the
computer's tale of human evolution, and then its own, and then the protagonists -
and then it falls flat to the beginning key when he learns the awful truth about
You can tell from the way a lot of the stuff is written that Brian has put a lot
of himself into the music, something that makes the music sound 'human' and
'personal', which helps keep away the pretentiousness and pomposity that most
progressive metal is guilty of. Quality, tastefulness, honesty; all of these
can be applied to the music of Fireaxe. It's not extreme in any sense of the
word, and I dare say that a lot of you would listen to this and dismiss it, but
you would be doing a great disservice. Fortunately, you need not spend a dime
to check it out - in one of the boldest moves of any band I've encountered
(and the one thing that, more than anything else, proves Brian's dedication
to the ART of his music), Fireaxe has made the entire album available in CD-
quality MP3 on the band's website, and express license is given to distribute in
any way you see fit so long as you don't take credit or sell for profit. I urge
EVERYONE to give it a listen. Music doesn't get much better than this.
The Official Fireaxe Website - http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html
© 2000 lord vic