Lovecraftian Nightmares

Please first read my review of Fireaxe's first CD, "A Dream of Death", to get a better idea of where I'm coming from in this review. If you don't feel like going back, suffice it to say that I think Fireaxe (the one-man project of multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Brian Voth) writes some of the most classy, personal, *artistic* music I've ever heard. It's heavy metal with a slightly thrashy tinge and heavy progressive sound (due to the long, epic song structures, non-standard riffs/arrangements, and clean, classy vocals and lead guitar work). Brian writes from the heart and puts a LOT of work into writing the songs and capturing them properly in his home studio.

"Lovecraftian Nightmares" is his second album, but most of these songs appeared on the first demo (also titled "Lovecraftian Nightmares"). As you might gather from the title, the songs are inspired by the poetry of H. P. Lovecraft. Directly. Eight of the ten songs on this album are actual Lovecraft poems that Brian has written songs for. The interpretations are ingenious, to say the least - Brian has really stretched his talents to capture the diverse emotions and moods present in Lovecraft's poetry. Take the album's opener, "Beyond Zimbabwe": it starts with some jungle-sounding drumming (inspired by the poem's first line) which opens up into the syncopated 12/8 main riff, while wailing but still tasteful lead guitars scream out melodies that capture the feeling of terror and helplessness at the impending doom. "Nightmare Lake" has some contrasting clean and heavy parts which show what is and what might be under the lake... "Despair" also features some of Brian's excellent clean singing (double- tracked, sometimes doubling, sometimes trading) over a mournful clean chord- progression. The album's closer, "Nathicana", takes one of Lovecraft's larger poetic works (over 100 lines) and sets it to a sinister, minimalistic riff, made even more so by the lack of drums and bass. First one and then more guitars come in and add to and build on the main riff, mirroring the development of the vision of Nathicana within the hypnotic framework of that first melody. "The Ancient Track", "Nemesis", "Festival", and "The Outpost" also receive similarly quality treatments at the hands of Mr. Voth.

The lyrics to the other two songs on the album are written by a Fireaxe and Lovecraft fan, Octavio Ramos, whose Lovecraft-inspired poems "Whispers in the Night" and "Hounds of Tindalos" are really brought to life by Brian. "Whispers" is one of those lovely tales of developing insanity, and the development is matched by the music, starting clean and somber and then developing a heavy riff, then getting more and more twisted as melodies continue mutating and rearing their newer, uglier heads. "Hounds" is some great, galloping power- thrash that captures the frantic breathlessness of pursuit by someone, or someTHING....

Again, words fail when trying to get across how great this stuff is. I imagine that Lovecraft would be proud of the music Brian has created for it, because it gets across the same feelings I got when reading the poetry for the first time, but it also captures some of Brian's emotion as well - the hallmark of a true artist. Also like the last album, the entire thing is available for free download in CD-quality MP3 from the Fireaxe website. I URGE you to check out Fireaxe - you will NOT be disappointed.

The Official Fireaxe Website -

2000 lord vic