F U L L . R E V I E W S

Fireaxe - Victory Or Death 2003 Indy Release
reviewed by: EC

Track Listing
1. Failures Of The Fathers
2. Chariot
3. Food For The Gods
4. The Covenant/My Name Is Joshua
5. The Great Crusade
6. Guardian Of The Realm
7. Cut Or Be Cut
8. The Soul Doctors
9. Black Knight
I had heard rumors of an epic, three disc album that was performed and recorded by a one man band called Fireaxe a few months back. I had written down the name of the record but like most other things, I simply forgot about it. Recently we received a release from Fireaxe entitled "Victory Or Death". The liner notes show that this release is actually a culmination of material from the three disc album, "Food For The Gods".

The idea for Fireaxe came from an individual named Brian Voth. Voth had the idea of creating an album that would span the entire history of warfare on Earth, three thousand years of war and pain if you will. With "Victory Or Death", Voth has trimmed the three discs down to nine cuts, from which I assume he feels are the best representation of material found on "Food For The Gods". I find it very interesting that Brian Voth plays all the instruments on this release. Voth proves that he is quite the mastermind, learning each instrument from scratch, recording, singing, and writing the songs that depict the ultimate in human emotion, warfare, in all its painstaking glory and burden. Voth does a wonderful job here delivering his message for mankind, with heavy metal the backdrop for his human life paintings. For the experienced metal listener, this album is on the same side of the tracks as Manowar and Virgin Steele, with a slight smudge of progressive metal ala Lethal, Psycho Drama, and the ever present Fates Warning. For the inexperienced metal listener, well, this could be a great introduction to modern age power metal.

Fireaxe doesn't quite have the same charm as supergroups like Manowar and Savatage, but at the same time it gives me great pleasure to think of a heavy metal fan creating his own metal album from scratch. Voth really plays every instrument, sort of making himself musically from the same mold as legendary metal men like Jeff Waters and Peter Tagtgren. Voth does not play drums, instead bringing in a machine to complete the recording, but taking the time to program the drums for plenty of fills and changes.

Fireaxe brings to life "Victory Or Death" with classic tracks like the stormy opener "Failures Of The Fathers", with Voth singing in the same style as Klaus Meine (Scorpions), crossed with the screaming highs of Manowar's Eric Adams. "Chariot" rolls along in a furious crescendo, with Voth showing off a fuzzy, grinding guitar sound, with a crunchy bass in the background. "Guardian of the Realm" adds some keyboard elements, making it one of the slower tracks of the release. I really enjoyed the rather barbaric sounding "Cut Or Be Cut", which shows the high falsetto vocals that Voth seems to pull off so well.

I'm not so sure that this is an album that I could continually pull off the shelf, but it is a decent listen throughout. I'm can't say if I would need three discs of this type of record, but "Victory Or Death" narrows the songs down a bit for me. My main concern with the record is how many lyrics the record has. It seems like Voth never really allows the songs to breathe, instead constantly singing new verses or going back to the chorus. I like my songs to be a little less wordy, but nevertheless, this is still a really good effort.

Note-This may have one of the worst album covers I've ever seen. I can't tell if the character on the cover is a motorcross rider or a knight.

--EC 08.11.04

The production was off a bit for me, specifically the loud distortion on the bass, but Voth makes up for it with a passion for metal that really comes across. Hails to ya, brother. Check out his detailed song write-ups at: http://www.neptune.net/~bev/FireVD.html

--Nailer 08.11.04
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

Victory or DeathFireaxe
Eric Compton8/11/2004


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