The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.6

October 7, 2008

"The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave
the rest. They always did. They always will."
"We should remember that the people never act from reason
alone. The rich will take advantage of their passions, and
make these the instruments for oppressing them. The result
of the contest will be a violent aristocracy, or a more violent
despotism. The schemes of the rich will be favored by the
extent of the country. The people in such distant parts can
not communicate and act in concert. They will be the dupes
of those who have more knowledge and intercourse."

- Gouverneur Morris, co-author of the Constitution
of the United States in a letter to James Madison,
suggesting that the rich and the poor should have
separate representative branches in government,
otherwise "let the rich mix with the poor and...
they will establish an oligarchy."

And now our gods are on their knees.

Capitalism was allegedly "five-hundred trades away from Armageddon" according to a pair of traders inside two large banks as hundreds of billions of sell orders stacked up in money market funds one morning not long ago. And Democracy was successfully thwarted as members of Congress in the U.S. collaborated with Wall Street to pass a massive bailout bill over the adamant opposition from a vast majority of their constituents. They gave a single man almost unchecked power to spend an incomprehensible amount of money while giving the citizenry only the promise that he has our best interests at heart. Worse still is the fact that the man chosen for the task was so clueless about what was happening with the financial system that he thought that everything was sound only a few months ago. Passing such an outrageous bill, even in a time of crisis, has to be one of the most anti-democratic as well as one of the stupidest things that I have ever witnessed from my government in my lifetime and the only thing that our representatives could say about it in their defense was that "we had to do something". I assume that asking someone other than a Bush administration insider or appointee about other possible solutions was out of the question? How about after the bill failed the first time? Without a doubt, the men and women who voted for the bill are cowards and incompetents and need to be removed from office as quickly as possible.

The oligarchy that Gouverneur Morris warned us about has seized control of the corridors of power, or at least they've made it obvious who has the power in our country, and they are working their hardest to transfer as much wealth as possible into their own hands while making it appear as though they are serving the best interests of the country. The housing bubble itself enabled a massive transfer of wealth from the masses to the rich as the rich made huge profits selling overvalued houses and handing out trillions of dollars in loans to people who won't be able to pay them back. Now those same people have enabled the transfer of those bad loans to the government while lowering their own tax burden so that they can keep milking the good loans while making the rest of us cover the losses on the bad. Worse still is that every effort is being made to keep people in their overpriced homes and making payments, regardless of whether it is better for them to simply walk away and let foreclosure occur. The oligarchy would rather see the masses sucked dry rather than made economically stable with a bailout, debt forgiveness, or other popular measure.

As Morris wrote, the rich will take advantage of the passions of the poor and use those instruments to oppress them. This they did with extreme effectiveness in the last decade, promising great wealth to anyone who invested heavily in a 401k or bought a home. And now that the final bubble has burst the masses are starting to wake up to the oppression of a massive debt burden, a plummeting stock market, a failing job market, expensive health care, and the onus of a deep recession, if not a full blown depression, looming before them. The rich also took advantage of the congress, using fear to ram a number of ridiculous bailout packages down the throats of clueless legislators. As the majority leader of the Senate remarked that no one knew what to do over five trillion in liabilities were added to the national balance sheet with trillions more undoubtedly on the way. The way our elected officials rolled over and let the rest of us get robbed made the $700 billion bailout bill seem like the financial version of the USA PATRIOT act. They abandoned their responsibilities and sold us up the river, surrendering their power to control the country's purse strings to a Wall Street insider whom we are supposed to entrust with fixing the banking system. The potential for the abuse of power here is so mind-numbingly far reaching that it is a real stretch of the imagination to keep believing that we still live in a democracy. The U.S. has appointed nothing short of a financial dictator with nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars to spend as he will, with more hundreds of billions likely to be added to his account in future months, and who can pick and choose who he wants to bail out (his old friends at Goldman Sachs maybe?), who gets the shaft (old political enemies maybe?), and all with virtually no accountability. But at least we have the satisfaction of seeing Monetarist fundamentalists and free market apologists admitting that they have been following a false doctrine and embracing what they call "socialism". All this from a group of people who used to laugh at Soviet-style managed economies. Of course, it's not socialism if the masses get the shaft. What we're really talking about is an oligarchy, a form of government where the wealthy rule from behind the scenes, but at least we get to pick which servants of the rich run the country so we can pretend to still have a democracy.

But it is looking ever more likely that even the powers that be cannot save the system from itself and the complete collapse of the global financial system draws nearer with each passing day. To those who still don't believe that such a thing could happen and to those who feel that our leaders were misled into supporting a $700 billion dollar bailout package I can only say that this time around the cries of "wolf" are real. The "Masters of the Universe" have screwed up really, really bad this time and if you've been following the past editions of The Burning Blade then you have some idea of how it all happened. If it was just five or so trillion in potentially doomed mortgages and other loans that are at risk in the U.S. then the problem is painful to deal with but still manageable. Completely nationalizing the loans and adding that amount to the government's massive debt would surely drag the economy down, as it would in the many other nations with housing bursting housing bubbles, but the global financial system would remain solvent. The problem is that the loans were leveraged into massive bets on trades in markets world wide, most of which were insured by other institutions who were also massively leveraged themselves so that even larger profits could be made off of the mortgages. But now with the collateral for those trades going bad and with drastically fewer loans coming in to enable them to make more gambles to offset the failing ones the game is up and those massive bets need to be unwound. So how massive are these bets? Well, it's a little hard to believe when you see the numbers, but there are over sixty trillion dollars in outstanding credit default swaps and over one quadrillion (notional amount - so let's assume 10% of that is realistically on the line) in outstanding derivatives out there along with who knows what all else. So what that means is that we are not talking about a five trillion dollar problem, but one of over one-hundred sixty trillion dollars, and all of it thanks to deregulation, greed, and a conscious lack of oversight on the part of the central banks and governments in the U.S. and elsewhere. This problem is too big to solve and the powers that be are trying to prop up a failing system by keeping all the major players in the game no matter how much money they have to throw around or mergers they have to fund for fear that if the dominoes start to fall and all those trillions have to be written off that in the end there won't be a single bank or investment firm left standing. That so many institutions around the world are at risk is thanks to the globalization of the modern financial system which was intended to reduce risk by spreading it around but in the end allowed excessive risk taking and "moral hazard" to contaminate every market in the world. No one is immune. Thus the desperation and fear in the eyes of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke as they met with members of congress a short time ago. Their god, Monetarism, is failing them and things are falling apart faster than they can put them back together. We are most certainly facing the possibility of a total and complete collapse of the entire global economy.

Of course, I am not saying that in an effort to implore people to try and stop it from happening. To the contrary, I want it to happen. Not because I am an anarchist or suicidal or anything, but because I want to see a stable, well regulated financial system arise in its place and I don't see that happening until we clear away the debris of the rotted and hopelessly corrupt current system. I want to help to rebuild my nation when it falls, but I do not want to build a castle on quicksand.

I suppose that I could gloat, since I predicted that this was coming, and I could argue with some of you about whether the economy will bottom out soon and rebound or that things will not be as bad as I think they will be, but the point of trying to get at the truth is not to have bull sessions and argue about who is right and who is wrong but to use that knowledge to prepare oneself to deal with potential crises. So, to help you all out in this regard I'll lay out some possible scenarios and make a few recommendations about prudent courses of action.

Firstly, I don't expect the collapse to happen within the next few weeks or months although the way things have deteriorated recently it wouldn't surprise me if it did. Generally when things reach a crisis level the government begins to intervene with mild measures which grow more and more draconian as previous actions fail to correct the growing cascade of problems. The easiest of these brute force methods is to simply block certain financial transactions from occurring, such as shutting down the stock market if it goes down too far too fast (Russia did this twice in the last few weeks) and limiting the amount of money that people can withdraw from their banks and investments to prevent a classic run on the banks. Yes, they can and will prevent you from accessing your money when you want it. These measures help to keep banks and other institutions solvent, stopping them from losing capital due to investors selling their stock and depositors cashing out their accounts. Now, due to the fractional reserve system, banks do not have enough capital to pay off their depositors if they all wanted to withdraw their money at the same time. This is the case whether the banks are healthy or not and it works fine as long as the system is well regulated, the economy is functional, and fraudulent practices are not running rampant. People are told not to withdraw their money since that will always make things worse and can often create problems where there are none to begin with. However, in today's case I see no good reason to keep up our end of the bargain. We have been lied to and betrayed by those entrusted to handle our finances. And even with FDIC insuring your deposits you should realize that they only have around fifty billion dollars in reserves to insure around four trillion dollars in deposits. All it would take to wipe out the FDIC is for one major bank to go bankrupt. At that point, if your bank fails then you will have to get in line behind everyone else to get your money back from the government. That might take a while. But if you do decide to keep money in the bank, make sure that you have a recent statement of your account to show as proof that you are owed that money. But given the miniscule interest rates you're getting from your savings account, it doesn't matter so much whether you're keeping your money in the bank vault or under your mattress. Having a stash of bills at home will protect you from a wide variety of policies and calamities that can rob you of your savings, and if the economy were to recover, you won't have lost much in interest when you deposit that money back into your bank.

If you have a 401k or other investment in the market it is a different story when it comes to the potential downside of withdrawal. Add an early withdrawal penalty of 10% to a major rally in the market of, say, 20% to 40% and you could end up costing yourself a lot. Then again, the market could turn down sharply and you could lose half of your nest egg or more. It might be worthwhile to diversify by cashing out a fair amount of your retirement account and investing it elsewhere, but with the prices of traditional good investments (stocks, real estate) falling like rocks you'll need to look elsewhere for assets that either hold their value or appreciate in difficult times. Gold and silver are the traditional "safe havens" when economies are going through major crises, especially if inflation or hyperinflation ensues. In many cases the government will run out of money and resort to funding its operations by printing up the cash it needs to pay people. This usually results in inflation and only temporarily solves the problem, inviting more money printing and more inflation. Inflation is bad if you have cash under the mattress, or savings in the bank, and it can be lethal for people on fixed incomes. Inflation is good for people who are in debt, but only if they see their wages going up, the prevention of which seems to be the only thing that the people in power have been successful at doing. Another potential problem is deflation, which can happen if the government steps aside and lets banks fail left and right without printing money to compensate for the loss in capital as the Federal Reserve did before the great depression. In this case the cash is king since there is so little of it and prices are forced downwards sharply since no one has any money. True that the prices of gold and silver will also come down during deflation, but they will still buy their equivalent in goods. But what I expect to see is stagflation, which is prices going up while wages and growth stay flat. This will be like a noose slowly tightening around everyone's necks as wave after wave of declining growth, reduced investment, job losses, and decreased spending ripple through the global economy. But whether we have inflation, deflation, or stagflation, gold and silver will hold their buying power when nothing else is. The trouble with buying gold or silver today is that the markets for those metals fluctuate so much on a day to day basis that picking the right time to buy is likely to give you a bad case of indigestion. Also, the market for precious metals is getting very crowded as of late and the U.S. treasury is running short of gold bullion coins so if you decide to buy it may be hard to find them in the amounts that you want. I recommend precious metals, mostly coins that you can hold in your possession, mainly because they are not paper and their value cannot suddenly drop to nothing, as any Zimbabwean or Argentinean will tell you about their former currencies. E-mail me if you need to find reputable dealers in the U.S.

The government has the power to do almost anything in a financial crisis and you shouldn't rule out confiscation as a possibility. In my mind the closer you have your money, in whatever form it is in, to your physical person the harder it is for the government to confiscate it. They might seize assets you have anywhere: bank accounts, 401k accounts, etc., giving you an IOU for them which they will pay back in devalued currency at some later date. Yes, that sounds criminal, but it's been done before. And they might make gold ownership illegal, as the U.S. did in 1933, forcing you to trade your gold for paper dollars and arresting you if they catch you trying to exchange gold for goods on the black market. And they might make use of the eminent domain power to seize real estate, making any investment potentially unsafe, save perhaps for the purchase of a representative or senator of course. Another possible move for a desperate government is the replacement of all dollars with a completely new currency, with the exchange rate for normal citizens being less than one to one. The government would justify all of these methods of what is essentially theft by stating, credibly, that they need the funds to pay for basic services and to keep foreign investors from pulling their money out of the country and making things even worse. As hopeless as this all might sound, the message is clear, diversify all your funds and don't rely on anyone, especially the government, to bail you out. Everyone will be hurting and things which are safe and reliable will come at a premium. And watch out for scams as con artists and desperate people will be everywhere.

Budget-wise I would recommend cutting back to the bone. Pay off high interest loans like credit cards but keep the low interest loans where they are, provided that you can pay them. If you have a place to live free and clear then you are going to be doing better than a whole lot of people if and when the collapse happens. You might also want to invest in a small amount of "survival" gear. Now, I'm not talking about enough food and water to hole up in your basement for a couple of years, but having the ability to ride out a week or more if a major breakdown occurs (such as a power outage lasting for days, the police walking off their jobs due to their salaries not being paid, all banks, credit cards, etc, shut down for a week as a new currency is put in place) is a good idea. And for self-defense I recommend getting a good shotgun and learning how to use it. Handguns are expensive, hard to hit your target with, and people don't always fall down when you shoot them with one contrary to what you see on TV and in the movies. A shotgun, on the other hand, is much easier to handle and far more lethal, and you can sometimes survive a confrontation just by racking it as the sound alone tends to make people run away very quickly. But please, if you buy a gun, learn how to keep it and use it legally and safely and don't shoot anyone unless your life is in danger. Life is not a video game. If you screw up, you can end up dead or spending the rest of your life in jail.

Long term I foresee something similar to the 1930s depression. All governments will become quite fascist, as they did during that period, regardless of who is elected to lead them. The leader will only determine the flavor of fascism. I expect to see soup lines, public works projects, unemployment, and a lot of sad and angry faces no matter what policies are put in place. And if I am right about the distribution of wealth being a major factor in economic health then it will take a long time for the economy to come around. The rich simply will not part with their money easily and they have a powerful influence over the government. Forced redistribution of wealth may result in a coup and political turmoil will likely break out in many parts of the world as the suffering grows and spreads. There are no easy answers to these problems, so don't believe anyone who says that our problems can be solved if we just did one or two simple things. Even wealth redistribution needs to be done in a fair manner and the power of the free market, a regulated free market that is, must be unleashed before true recovery can occur. The global economy is distorted and dysfunctional and a lot needs to be changed before it will go back to working properly again. Even if a leader knows exactly what he or she is doing, the transformation will not be quick and easy.

So how does one prepare for global chaos? There's no simple answer and you'll each have to find your own paths, but the better that you prepare yourselves financially, physically, and mentally, the better off that you'll be. Get your books in order and diversify your money. Make your commitment to having a healthy body and diet stick this time. And prepare yourself for living with a lot less than you expected. Reach out to community organizations which will help everyone spread the burdens and which will come together to help each other in times of need. Understand that the big party is over and that it is time to rediscover the side of yourself that enjoys simple pleasures and working hard. It won't be the end of the world, it's just the end of the world as you know it. The sooner that you accept that things are going to be different, the sooner that you can make adjustments and live a satisfying life. Take it from someone who survived cancer and slogged through years of chronic fatigue syndrome. Don't be afraid to chuck your ego, lower your standards, and tone down your goals. Now, I didn't say stop fighting. Always fight. And in the coming times you'll need to work hard to find the strength to stand up for yourself and others. But come to grips with the fact that your victories will be more modest and your rewards less spectacular. You'll be the better for it if you do.

Speaking of chronic fatigue, it appears as though my current treatment, which is improving my overall health, is going to push back any work on "Food for the Gods" probably to 2009. Part of that is due to my personal desire to get better which makes me opt for a more aggressive approach to treatment. I'm basically forcing my body to fight the illness as hard as it can, which puts a heavy load on me both physically and mentally, but I really want to be out of the woods before the wheels completely come off of the economy. In the back of my mind I fear my doctor going out of business before I'm done getting better and then what would I do? In any event, I've written up an especially long newsletter for you in the meantime. Enjoy.

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

The Meaning of the Songs - My Reflection

With an explosive beginning, sweeping away the closing bars of "Viva la Revolucion", comes a highly dynamic track which has become a lot more popular that I originally anticipated. "My Reflection" contrasts sharply with the previous tracks and provides some revealing insights into one of the main themes of the CD, that the protagonist and antagonist are two very similar people.

How can this be? The two seem like polar opposites. But the closer that you look at them the more clear it is that they have a great number of things in common. Perhaps the most important thing that the two share is their drive. Both of them will stop at nothing to achieve what they want. Both of them rose up through the ranks of the Firm and were determined to become the CEO with the antagonist succeeding where the protagonist fell short. And both are more than willing to commit atrocities in their desire to destroy each other, not caring much for the ones who fought, suffered, or died in the process of allowing them to realize their goals. Also, neither are particularly noble, so if you want to read about the white knight versus the black knight, then open up a book of fairy tales and take a vacation from reality. In the real world, ruthlessness, determination, and the willingness to make sacrifices for the "greater good" are characteristics that the powerful all share, and if you add to those things the ability to sell the lie to others in order to win their support and you have a good description of both of the major players in "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".

But what makes the comparison so fascinating is not what the two men share as much as the differences between the two. Halfway through the track "My Reflection" the protagonist puts his finger on it:

"But our difference is your weakness, you still believe."

The antagonist was described as a "true believer" in "The Evil Men Do" and in the many passages where he invokes the term "god" it is clear that he believes in a righteous cause which justifies anything that he has to do to purify the world. But is it really just a belief in a god that separates the two men? No. The story goes much deeper than atheism versus theism. In "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" as in other Fireaxe projects and in this newsletter, I use the terms "god" and "ideology" interchangeably and thus by "true believer" the protagonist is referring to the antagonist's faith in the system. The system failed the protagonist and thus he no longer has any faith in it, but the antagonist still believes in the system although he sees many flaws in it which he works hard to correct. Both see the system as being corrupt, but one wants to purify and reform it while the other seeks to destroy it. On that level you might say that it is a battle between hope and nihilism. On one hand you have the antagonist holding out hope that the system can be fixed and that all can be made right once again while on the other hand you have the protagonist condemning all ideologies and declaring that none are worthy of following. But on another level there is an undercurrent flowing in the exact opposite direction, that of a struggle between truth and lies. The protagonist states that all ideologies are based on lies and that those lies will eventually corrupt any system, no matter how noble it is in purpose. He proves this by slowly corrupting the antagonist throughout the CD and finishes the job in the final track.

And so with this in mind we can take another look at "My Reflection" and see both the differences and similarities between the two foes. In the first half of the song both the music and the vocal styles paint a sharp contrast between the two rivals. The antagonist is bellowing with self-righteous fury and his lyrics are backed by pounding rhythms and intense guitar work while the protagonist is quiet and smug and his lyrics are backed by light drumming and a single acoustic guitar. The men seem to be polar opposites, but a closer look at what they are saying reveals some profound similarities. For example, recall the opening verse:

"Don't give me that revolutionary bullshit
save it for your all controlling state."

It's no coincidence that this line is very similar to the ones that the protagonist uttered in "Masters of the Universe". Both men have a contempt for the idealism of others, but the difference is that one has faith in the system of which he is a part and the other does not. But how big of a difference is that? When it comes to all other ideological systems, past, present, and potentially future, they agree, with both of them dismissing all other ideologies as being wrong. And so in numerical terms there's not much difference between the protagonist dismissing all ideologies as being lies and the antagonist dismissing all but one of them as being lies, but in psychological terms the difference is huge. Ideologies themselves supply their believers with plenty of reasons to disbelieve in rival ideologies as it is necessary for their own survival to have believers of other faiths portrayed as disillusioned dupes. And to brush off the notion that its believers are fanatics, an ideology will usually allow the questioning of its own veracity, making believers think that they are skeptics and realists, even if its proponents must resort to elaborate word games in order to establish the ideology as the one true way. But a deep questioning of one's own beliefs, that which can make one lose their faith, cannot come about until one's belief system fails them and the reinforcement mechanism for their ideology is permanently broken. This is the most important difference between the protagonist and the antagonist and it is what the CD portrays in vivid detail.

The two go back and forth in the first half of the song with the similarities between the two growing more and more obvious. The protagonist tells of his exploits in that nameless Latin American country where he and his "freedom fighters" committed countless atrocities against the rich and powerful, atrocities which he justifies by pointing out their exploitation of the working class. The antagonist in turn brushes aside his lawbreaking and immoral actions and justifies them with pragmatism, suggesting that doing anything less would allow far worse things to happen. Both showed how exceptional they are by accomplished what they set out to do quickly and efficiently, and neither were shy about going to extremes to do so. Also, one can find another similarity by comparing the scenes in "My Angel", where the protagonist is raging out of control and abusing his true love with the scenes in "Black and Black" where the antagonist is screaming his head off and torturing the protagonist. Another thing that they both share is a profound hatred of each other and an obsessive desire to destroy their rival at all costs. And in one of my favorites lines, when the antagonist says that the protagonist deserves to burn in hell the protagonist responds by saying that since the torture chamber that his rival commands is like a living hell then "who are you if not the devil?". As the similarities build the traditional way of looking at the conflict as a struggle of good versus evil breaks down completely. The fairy tale world is vanquished and replaced with the real one in all its hideous glory.

As an aside, one might ask why fairy tales exist, especially since they are so unrealistic. From ancient stories of brave knights slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress and tales of how the faithful are rewarded for their loyalty while the wicked are destroyed to modern tales of hobbits and rings, Jedis and Sith, and the lone hero who breaks the rules and brings down the bad guy, these simplistic depictions of a battle between good and evil have always resonated with the public regardless of how little they reflect the world around us. But the point is not to lavishly replicate reality, although the nature of the tales change to match the culture and the ideologies they support. Instead the point is to satisfy the ideologically imposed need which people have to see their beliefs vindicated. Of course, some resemblance to reality is required since the tale needs to be accessible to the individual, but in place of the often random and sometimes confusing nature of reality the plot is specifically structured to teach an ideological lesson. Everything that happens in the story happens for a reason and that reason is to show that behaving in a certain way will win you a reward in the end. For example, in real life a baseball team may win the world series because a few players had surprisingly good years, or perhaps the owner spent a lot of money signing star players from rival teams, or maybe a lucky hit or bad call decided a close game which put them over the top. But in a fairy tale, a baseball team will invariably win it all when they accept and adopt the tenets of the prevailing ideology, such as having one player learn to set aside his ego and be a team player, and having another break a bad habit like drinking, and having a third played inspired by love or religion or whatever the writer wants to lionize. But it is their adherence to the proper way of behaving that wins them the prize in the end. These fairy tales serve not only as lessons to be learned, but they also serve to reinforce ideological messages that often become eroded by doubts when one sees one's ideals falsified by reality.

So why not just teach reality instead? What's so wrong about learning that sometimes the "bad guys", or rather, the guys who don't necessarily follow all the tenets of the prevailing ideology, win? Sometimes cheaters finish first and aren't caught. Sometimes liars get the girl. Sometimes the rich foist billions of dollars of bad debt on the public and pocket millions themselves. Why not teach what really goes on in the world? Well, believers will frame that question in terms of a struggle between good and evil as well, just like in the fairy tales, and say that while the real world has its problems, that it can one day be as righteous as the world in our dreams if only we remain true to the ideals of our ideology. As long as one keeps their faith goodness will invariably spread to others and eventually the world will be perfect, or at least that is what we are told. And some ideologies fashion some sort of heaven or happy hunting ground as a reward for those who kept the faith all of their lives but ended up with little to show for it. Such a thing is impossible for a skeptic to falsify. But in truth the fairy tale is just a dream. It is an unworkable vision of reality that can only be realized for a short period of time, if at all. So why do they remain popular instead of being dismissed? Because it is the impossible nature of the fairy tale which makes it vital to the ideology. It must be idealized and unreachable, because once indoctrinated to embrace fairy tales, a believer will long for the fairy tale world and find reality unsatisfying, corrupt, and even plagued by evil. The believer will then feel compelled to try to change reality to match the image of the world in their dreams. This will put the believer into a state of conflict with their environment, which provides a critical source of motivation that will generally make the believer more productive and more determined than a person who merely accepts things the way that they are. Motivated believers work harder at self improvement, are more aggressive in their dealings with others, and fight with more determination than the more complacent non- believers. And ideologies benefit greatly from having legions of motivated believers since it improves the chances of the ideology to survive and thrive against rival ideologies. And thus, fairy tales, impossible but alluring versions of reality, will always tend to overshadow actual history since the embrace of the lie imparts a survival advantage to those who believe it.

As a further aside, are the stories that I tell in my music also fairy tales? Do they propagate an impossible vision of reality to make an ideological point? Well, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is certainly not a biography, and yes the plot was intentionally crafted to drive home a given message. All art aspires to do the same. But as far as motivating my listeners to embrace an alternate vision of the world and to strive to make reality match that vision I can only say that my music has mostly the opposite effect, which is probably a major reason for its lack of popular support. "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is more of an "anti-fairy tale" where one by one the ideals which modern fairy tales uphold and extol are presented and then shot to pieces. Instead of indoctrination, the CD strives to deprogram the believer. For example, the protagonist is the perfect gentleman in his romance of his angel, but did he win her heart? No. She fell into the arms of a liar and he was powerless to prevent it. So did he win her back in the end? No. She did come back to him, but she was despoiled in both body and mind and couldn't love him as she did before. So did he make the best of it anyway, accepting her "warts and all"? No. It was too painful for him to accept her and instead he killed her. Now, the protagonist did have his revenge against the man who defiled his angel, which is another well worn fairy tale plot, but in this case his revenge was so excessive and depraved that it bears no resemblance to the typical fairy tale. Instead of a vindication of one's beliefs that acting in a certain way produces the expected rewards the listener is left in a state of shock, scrambling to find a nonexistent moral message. The CD goes further. When the protagonist does the "right" thing he gets screwed and when he does the "wrong" thing he gets screwed. Reality burns him every step of the way. And while it's not difficult to have some degree of sympathy for the protagonist as a result of his many travails, the embrace of his final nihilistic fate is not one that anyone would find at all palatable. No, the protagonist is not a figure to be emulated, but rather he is a symbol. He, along with the antagonist, are the living embodiments of the destructive and eventually suicidal nature of ideologies. Now, perhaps someone might listen to "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" and conclude that the message is that all ideologies are false and dangerous and thus they must be destroyed, but that would be missing the point, effectively coming to an ironically mistaken conclusion. The point of the story is to try and sweep away the ideological indoctrination that we have all been subjected to and to clear a path to reality. Like I wrote, it is an "anti-fairy tale".

Now, back to the track "My Reflection". In the second half of the song the protagonist expounds upon the critical crossroads in his life where he and the antagonist made different decisions that took them down two different paths. The idea of the song is to show how two very similar people could end up diametrically opposed. The first verse is particularly thought provoking:

"My reflection, why would he ask any questions?
Why would he not believe the lies?
All is perfect in his eyes."

Why does someone ask questions? Here it is not so much a reference to curiosity but a reference to doubt. Doubts come when one's vision of reality, or one's ideological fairy tale world, is clearly contradicted by the real world. This happens when something goes seriously wrong. When things go the way that we expect or anticipate, we do not ask questions nor do we wonder if the way that we are doing things is the right way. Doubt is something that never enters our minds. And some believers live in such a well constructed fairy tale world that nothing that happens is in the least bit unexpected, as least from an ideological perspective. They have answers for everything and doubts, when they have them, are generally mild and don't cause them to question their beliefs for very long. The world is thus "perfect" in their eyes. The protagonist, on the other hand, could never achieve such a state, at least not for very long. The system was always failing him and forcing him to ask deep questions which eventually overthrew his faith in it. So here the suggestion is that one difference between the protagonist and antagonist is that the protagonist suffered just enough doubt to push him into disbelief.

The rest of the track asks many questions along those lines. Perhaps the difference between the two rivals was the antagonist's privileged upbringing, being the son of the chairman of the firm, which gave him an easier path to the top. Perhaps the antagonist, after having his own true love stolen from him, swallowed his pride and accepted her in her degraded state. Perhaps the antagonist never suffered hardships at the hands of others, or if he did, perhaps he gave in to them rather than resist to the end. The questions are left unanswered and the story doesn't reveal the exact reasons why the two chose such different paths, but in the end one has undying faith and the other does not.

My favorite line of the song is at the end:

"And as his god began to fade, and reason fell away,
faith was all that remained and faith became a weapon."

Sometimes a fairy tale world becomes so well conditioned that believers will choose to embrace an ideological fantasy world instead of reality when the two become obviously incompatible. Instead of succumbing to their doubts, the believer will become fanatical and work even harder to force reality to fit their idealistic vision of it. This is what happens to the antagonist in the final track, his faith becomes a weapon to wield against reality.

The Meaning of the Songs - Black and Black

And now the final act. The soft ending of "My Reflection" quietly transforms into the bass driven beginnings of the titanic clash between the protagonist and the antagonist. Throughout the song the scene has switched back and forth between the torture chamber and the protagonist's recollections but now with one last switch we will remain in the cold dark place where the secret crimes of state are committed. Everything has become "Black and Black".

As the interrogation begins in earnest the protagonist's strategy becomes clear. He wants to attack the antagonist's weaknesses: his faith in the system and his belief in his god, and so the protagonist is constantly steering the interrogation in that direction. So while the antagonist is trying to break the protagonist down physically and mentally and force him to tell the truth, the protagonist is trying to soften the antagonist up psychologically, making him overly emotional so that he will believe his final lie. As much as the antagonist believes that he is in control, asking all the questions and having total power over his captive, his control is only an illusion, and he gradually surrenders his control to the protagonist. In the end the antagonist has power over the protagonist's body and the protagonist has power over the antagonist's mind and by the end of the track both end up being twisted, brutalized, and permanently disfigured.

One odd part about the interrogation is that the protagonist has told the truth, as ugly as it is, throughout the entire CD, and yet in many of the cases the antagonist doesn't believe him, until the protagonist lies of course, but I am getting ahead of the story. The exchanges between the two reveal the perceptual blindness of the antagonist:

"Who are you working for? Who are your contacts?
I want answers. I want the truth."

"No, you want a lie.
You want me to vindicate the lies you tell your people and yourself."

Here the protagonist actually gives away his strategy, telling the antagonist that what he really wants him to say it exactly what the antagonist wants to hear. But the antagonist refuses to believe that he is as gullible as he turns out to be:

"I will not believe your lies, I am not weak like your freedom fighters."

"Everyone is like them,
willing to do anything for their gods and their dreams.
That's how we came to power,
we fed the people the lies they needed to hear."

Just as fairy tales yield a survival advantage to those who believe them, lies helped both men rise to the top of the Firm as well as enabled the Firm to conquer and crush all of its rivals. One take on this quote is to wag one's finger at the powerful and shame them for taking advantage of the gullible masses, but it does take two to tango, and if the masses lack wisdom and self-restraint then they deserve at least part of the blame for their own exploitation. Of course, given that ideologies are based on lies, almost everyone is vulnerable to some sort of exploitation, and all sacred cows can be used as Trojan horses to victimize the faithful. In our modern world most recently both the stock market and the housing market were used in this manner as capitalist dogma professed that stocks are always good investments and that real estate prices never go down. We have since found out otherwise.

But put that way it sounds as if the market and housing crashes were the result of some elaborate conspiracy to bilk the masses out of their hard earned money, and while I do not discount the idea that a few cynical investors knowingly decided to exploit the gullible, a conspiracy is not necessary in most cases. If the people in charge truly believe their own lies, that is, they whole-heartedly accept their ideology's dogmatism, they will be the most convincing salesmen of all when professing the lies inherent in their beliefs. In their eyes they are not inducing and exploiting an ill-fated bubble, they are simply receiving their fair share of the profits from an endless boom which is benefiting everyone. And they will even, as we are now seeing, undertake extraordinary measures to force reality to match their distorted perspective of it. The most fanatical of those believers will not part with their faith even when reality is strongly putting the lie to their beliefs, and they will not accept the idea that what they believe in is simply not true. Technically speaking they are not liars, just disillusioned fools professing their beliefs. And as much as this is the case for the Secretary of the Treasury and Federal Reserve Chief, it is the case for the antagonist:

"Not I. You were the master deceiver. You are the anti-Christ."

"The most dangerous liar is the one who believes his own lies, you."

The antagonist can't see his own misconceptions, believing instead that his rise to power was due to his righteousness. This is revealed in the next part of the song as the antagonist says:

"I cleansed the firm of all your evil,
now it is a tool of righteous power."

Never mind the lies that the Firm was built upon nor the illegal and immoral tactics it used to gain its position of power over the government, the antagonist brushes the past aside and feels that since he has cleansed the Firm of whatever evil it used to do, at least given his interpretation of the word, a pragmatic one at best as we have seen in the CD, that it is now a force for good:

"We spread our ways and the world pays tribute.
We take them down the path to God."

This is a reference any imperial ideology, such as Neoliberal economics, neoconservative politics, the well known "White Man's Burden" or any other ideological rationalization for the domination and exploitation of foreign cultures. The imperial ideology always sees itself as doing the exploited nations a favor, uplifting their culture to one that is more economically powerful. In return for this favor they skim a little of the profit off the top, or perhaps skim more than just a little off the top as the case often is. But conquered nations are not like their conquerors, even though they are made to emulate their masters, because they are never allowed to achieve full sovereignty. Instead they remain beholden to their conqueror with their growth stunted and their aspirations throttled. And if they do not appreciate their servitude they are kept in line with fear. The protagonist points this out as he turns his rebuttal into another assault on the antagonist's faith:

"And when they refuse I've seen what you do.
It's not a god but fear you serve:
fear of abandonment,
fear of punishment,
fear of death.
Worship is cowardice."

This enrages the interrogator and he scales up the intensity, screaming in his captive's face as he brings pain and suffering down upon him. It is here where the protagonist's psyche begins to break down and he drifts out of consciousness. In a passage backed by a lone acoustic guitar he explains why his captor's attempts to break him down with fear will not work as he no longer fears death. In fact, he wants it to happen as he has nothing to live for, and as the Dark Goddess' angelic voice calls to him from beyond the realms of death he finds himself yearning for her embrace. But he knows that before he dies he wants to accomplish one last thing: he wants to satisfy his desire for revenge. And so he must stay awake.

The next passage is probably the most ugly analogy that I have ever used in a Fireaxe song and is meant to describe the cycle of life and death as it pertains to ideologies:

"All gods are born in blood their faithful are baptized in fire.
All gods are patricidal gods, seeking to destroy that which spawned them.
All power is built of hatred and contempt for what came before.
And as the father strangles his son anger is his only salvation.

"One by one his rivals fall until the tyrant is slain.
One god rises up from the ashes and the world is brought to heel.
But that which is born of hatred must have rivals to fuel its anger.
And so it breeds a thousand young to slaughter and feed on its corpses.

"The world is not black and white, it is black and black.
And enthralled to insane gods we fight and die for a lie."

This is the Fireaxe theory condensed into ten lines and portrayed as a passion play between the father, which is the ruling ideology, and its sons, the rival ideologies. The basic idea is that ideologies are created in opposition to the previous ideology and that they derive their source of power from their hatred of that ideology. This hatred fuels it to overcome and vanquish the ruling ideology, becoming the new ruler of the world, but without rivals the new ruler loses its motivation and so it creates new rivals to fill the role of the vanquished oppressor. Thus, it is the oppositional nature of ideologies that is the root cause of all conflict in the world. Ideologies must oppose other ideologies since that is how they gain their strength, and only the strong survive. Recall the discussion of fairy tales earlier and how they are lies which put the believer into a state of conflict with the world. Ideologically fairy tales will often portray a rival ideology as being the source of all evil in the world, even going so far as to blame that rival for the immoral behaviors of its own believers in the defense of the ideology. The lie is that once the rival is vanquished that peace will reign and everyone will be happy, but of course since the ideology is inherently oppositional in nature, even if all of its rivals are defeated it will seek out more, dividing itself into pieces and attacking itself if it can find no other rivals outside of itself. And thus, the world is not black and white but black and black. All ideologies are afflicted with the same curse and the world will be a constant struggle for survival and domination. And though ideologies can be defeated, they can only be replaced by ideologies which are even more oppositional in nature since that is the only way to become stronger and remove the ideology in power.

The antagonist cannot accept this view of the world and dubs it "madness". He counters it by saying that the proof that good always conquers evil is the fact that he has captured the protagonist and has total power over him, or so he believes. When the protagonist accuses him of resorting to the argument that "might makes right" the antagonist stands that argument on its head, saying that no, "right makes might". In essence, there is no difference between the two statements, but in the mind of the interrogator the notion makes perfect sense. He believes that he is powerful because he is righteous, ignoring the circular logic that the proof of his righteousness is that he has achieved the most powerful position in the world. The protagonist's plan has worked and the antagonist is too emotional to see the flaws in his logic. Now the antagonist is vulnerable to the protagonist's lies but first the protagonist must endure a brutal assault on his body and his identity as the antagonist orders that his face, the part of his body that most embodies his unique self, be destroyed beyond all recognition.

Again the protagonist slips out of consciousness as whirling blades cut deep into his flesh. The music here is some of my favorite on the CD. The screams of pain and agony give way to the enchanting chorus of angelic voices inviting the protagonist to quit fighting and surrender his life. Then the voices are joined by heavy rhythm guitars and a solo which just soars above it all. For me this is musically the most powerful moment on the CD and perhaps the most emotionally powerful as well as I envision the protagonist suffering an almost unimaginable amount of pain. But this was his choice, this was what he decided to face back in "Death's Angel" when he embraced the Dark Goddess and surrendered to his desire to seek his final revenge. Also recall the line in "I Used to be Young" where the protagonist says, "If I can just stay sane they'll pay the price". Now we see that his will has been strong enough and it is time for him to deliver his fateful lie.

Up to this point the protagonist has told the truth, telling the antagonist about all of the sordid details of his life and confessing his most deeply held beliefs. However, it is only when he delivers his lie, confessing to being a secret agent for some unnamed enemy, that the antagonist believes him. The protagonist sells his lie like the professional liar that he is, sneering at the antagonist, mocking him, conjuring visions of mushroom clouds and an army of secret assassins, and finally stating that the battle is over and that the antagonist has lost.

The antagonist falls for it, stepping squarely into the trap that has been cleverly laid out for him, and he overreacts in the way that all terrorists strive to provoke out of their far more powerful enemies with their abhorrent rhetoric and deeds. Driven by fear and believing that he is ordained by his god to protect his ideology from the evil which seems to be all around him the antagonist crosses the Rubicon, demanding that he be given the powers of a dictator and insisting that everyone be stripped of their rights in his search for the assassins and the mysterious "package" that can destroy an entire city. His pragmatism is his own undoing as he willingly sacrifices many of the tenets of his ideology in the belief that he will be saving the lives of millions of people including his own. What's a few lost rights here and there when the stakes are so much higher? And in the final lines he reveals that he is not content to simply perform an internal purging of enemy agents but desires to declare war upon the enemy nation. One can image him plunging the entire world into war. But as disturbing as that image is, what is perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the antagonist is reveling in his new role. He now gets to live the part of the white knight in the fairy tale battle between good and evil. And victory, being so deeply rewarding to him on a psychological level, is something that he will pursue without fail regardless of whether his foe truly exists or not. Breaking all the rules just provides a greater rush as he is determined to get the ultimate ideological fix.

Before 2001 the idea that something like this could happen in a democratic country was probably unthinkable to many, but today the idea is almost cliché. But now, as president Bush is just months away from stepping down, it seems that the world has dodged a bullet and that perhaps the worst fears of the president's critics will not be realized. It seems as though the United States was pushed to the brink of fascism or totalitarianism and then drew back as cooler heads prevailed, proof that the democratic system works. But I would be very reluctant to believe that we are out of the woods and scoff at the idea that constitutional democracies which enshrine human rights as its highest ideals will never slide into an authoritarian abyss. I would instead take the other view, that it was surprising just how fast my country embraced totalitarian methods, how willingly many of my fellow countrymen sacrificed their rights, and how silent and compliant the majority became when confronted with a relatively minor attack. Yes, I said minor. Compare the attacks on September eleventh with less than three thousand deaths to a typical carpet bombing of a city during World War Two where that many or more would die every night. It makes me wonder what my country will do when faced with much greater adversity, such as the suffering that I know will come should the global economic system fall.

So when the opening theme of the CD plays once more and the protagonist predicts that the antagonist will destroy himself and half the world as well I don't see the ending as being leftist hysteria or the moralizing of those who demand that if we do not stay true to our democratic ideals then this kind of thing will happen to us. Instead I see it as the ever-present and perhaps inevitable fate that can befall any ideology. There will always be charismatic leaders who see the world in black and white terms and who are no more motivated and empowered than when they are fighting to vanquish their ideological rival. To them the world is a battlefield with the fate of the entire universe on the line and given their addictions to ideological reinforcement their tendency towards totalitarianism and extremism is something that they are drawn to like junkies. What greater rush can there be than being God's all-powerful champion on earth? What greater feeling can there be than winning the final battle between good and evil? It matters not what an ideology's ideals are since its oppositional nature can always give rise to its self-destructive tendencies. When that happens, and it has happened to many nations in different ways throughout history, then we shall again see all the horrors and brutality inherent in our ideologies exposed for all to see. As always, we are food for the gods.

The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

  • 1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the interactions of simple things
  • 2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete, with the "losers" becoming extinct
  • 3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function according to the rules of conditioning
  • 4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases, which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

  • 1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
  • 2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
  • 3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological interactions of conscious humans
  • 4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much the same way that organisms do
  • 5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

  • 1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
  • 2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
  • 3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an ideology's survival
  • 4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
  • 5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person is motivated - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

  • 1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including, but not limited to, war and enslavement
  • 2. That aggression is a survival advantage
  • 3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive, thus creating a vicious circle
  • 4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy their needs
  • 5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

  • 1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply that continuous growth is not sustainable
  • 2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
  • 3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by destroying it

How to order Fireaxe CDs

Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which contains the following:

  • 1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
  • 2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
  • 3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to 1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.

Here is a price list. The first number is the cost for U.S. based customers, the second is for outside the U.S. The prices include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess: $6 / $9
Food for the Gods: $12 / $14 (SOLD OUT)
Victory or Death: $5 / $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares: $5 / $7 (SOLD OUT)
A Dream of Death: $3 / $5 (SOLD OUT)

Send everything to:

Brian Voth
1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
Chula Vista, CA, 91911 USA

If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in exchange for the review. In this case all I need is a request by e-mail. Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your magazine with the review in it when it is done. 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 CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a letter about the project, and some information about the CD which can also be found on the Fireaxe site.

Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project. The tiff disk is free so just say the word.

The Future

In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of projects from the past. First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made. Also, it may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time constraints. Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released. Everything will be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than ever. Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute limit instead of the current eighty, I will add six more minutes of music to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make the CD that much better. So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe. I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or "I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".

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 single CDs for $5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers the production and mailing costs. For CDs sent out of the country, I'll have to charge an extra $2 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. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess. I mean, seriously. She's the goddess of death after all. It's not a good idea. Furthermore, do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess. She does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that particular organ. Also, attempting to use other entrances will likely result in castration. Again, it's not a good idea.
  • 6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating, raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your side." Please, think before you act.
  • 7. You are food for the gods.
  • 8. 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?
  • 9. 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.
  • 10. 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.
  • 11. 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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