The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 4.1

December 1, 2000

"What a lie to say I'm immortal
What a lie to sell me your fame
Where is God when I'm buried
Does he stop this bloody game?"
- Accept, "Russian Roulette"

There is little doubt that gods are the cause of war. Gods are ideologies embraced the strongest by obsessives and neurotics who lead their sheep into mass conflicts. We self righteous Americans shake our heads when it happens in Kosovo or Israel, but do we see ourselves walking the same path in Florida? Indeed we do, but we see it as the path to glory.

The internet music war is over and greed has won. No surprise there. Perhaps the scariest part about watching ourselves screw each other over for money is that these are the times when money is plentiful. Imagine what an economic downturn will bring. But dark times bring inspiration, so at least it will be a good time for art.

This issue marks the beginning of the fourth year for Fireaxe on the internet. A big 'Hello' to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. This is the Fireaxe newsletter.

The next Fireaxe CD "Food for the Gods" widens in scope

I know that many of you are wondering how the next Fireaxe CD is progressing. Here are some updates:

The plot and theme of the release is almost completely in focus. It was intended to be an ambitious project and in that regard it will be successful. Trying to unearth the roots of violence, single minded ideologies, conflict, and murder is not an easy task. The question "why are people violent" is not a simple one, although people want a simple answer. Blaming video games, gun retailers, religious cults, or Satan assumes that violent acts are isolated incidents. This couldn't be further from the truth. In actuality the structure of our society is built upon violence and aggression. It is an inherent part of all social order.

A complex question demands a complex answer, and so I've hit the books to research the topic. I know that sounds unusual, most musicians gather material by going to a bar rather than to a library, but I want this project to do more than just rock. I want it to deliver powerful insight into one of the most important issues of all and studying up on neuropsychology, sociology, and ancient civilizations are what I need to do that. But despite how it may sound, "Food for the Gods" isn't going to read like a history book, it will be packed to the hilt with the raw emotional energy and violent scenes that our fore fathers saw and felt as they killed and died for their gods. It will not be "Hollywood-ized", that is, history re-written to appeal to the desires of a modern audience. It will be a sobering look into the unpleasant past that made us who we are today.

A lot is going into "Food for the Gods" and it will require more effort than any Fireaxe project to date. Putting it together has taken some time, but in that time I've had quite a few powerful inspirations that you will definitely enjoy. Your time spent waiting for it will be well worth it.

That being said, I have to admit that I still haven't put down the cash for a digital home studio. Thus, not a single note has been recorded for the new CD. However, on the plus side, since I first considered going digital, the prices of all the hardware have dropped to less than half of what they used to be. Plus, the technology has matured considerably. But rather than wait around until the price drops to free, the time has arrived to buy. The new toys will no doubt unleash the full power of Fireaxe.

Additionally, Octavio Ramos and I will be collaborating on another Fireaxe song. This time Octavio has conjured a poem well suited to the themes in "Food for the Gods". The madness of indoctrination has been captured beautifully in his creation "The Soul Doctors". Octavio has done it again.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio.

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.

Canada's Darkest Magazine churns out Vol. #7

Canada is a dark place. I never used to think so until I received the latest copy of "The Chamber" in the mail. It's an e-zine that Jason Hill also delivers via floppy disk. The magazine says that it's free, but that doesn't include the wear and tear on your psyche. To see what I mean check out this link.

The photos section is pretty gruesome (see page 16), especially the section on Bosnia (pictures they don't want you to see). I urge you to take a look at them not because they are shocking, but because they are real. This is what civilized people are capable of doing to other civilized people. Keep in mind that it could happen in your own back yard too.

Also, the Fireaxe review (an odd one) is on page 4.

On the Origins of Violence, part 1

To help clarify a few things about the upcoming CD "Food for the Gods", I'd like to run a series of columns my views on violence. This is the first installment.

First of all I want to make it clear that I am not using the themes of violence and conflict for only shock value. Shock is not art. Shock is not profound. Shock is a simplistic appeal to the emotions for the purpose of rousing a strong reaction. Shock has no value beyond that reaction. Shock has become for the most part a marketing gimmick to sell everything and anything. This has resulted in a culture that is becoming more and more desensitized to being shocked. This in turn drives advertisers to more potent extremes. Images of sex and violence, as well as overuse of profanity are proliferating due to the need to use shock tactics to stimulate the audience. Many forms of media, such as music, talk radio, television, and fine art have fallen victim to the escalation of shock. The creators of media must produce a more shocking product than the current market champion in order to gain popularity. The trouble is that value is being forgotten. Shock for shock's sake has no meaning or depth. It has only the transient property of titillation. It is disposable entertainment.

In creating Fireaxe and keeping it free from the demands of the marketplace I wanted to break away from the need to "one-up" the most shocking band on the scene. I want Fireaxe music to be timeless and meaningful. I want Fireaxe to be the opposite of disposable entertainment. I chose the topic of ideological conflict and violence because it is an important part of understanding ourselves and our world. The path to knowing who we are goes through some dark woods, and that's where the material for Fireaxe comes from. "A Dream of Death" took you down one dark road. "Food for the Gods" will take you down another. The CDs may shock you, but after the shock wears off, they have plenty more to say.

Now to the topic of the origins of violence. Our culture views violence as a last resort and that might lead you to believe that it is a minor part of any relationship, however, in reality it is the foundation upon which all relationships are built. Violence is the most powerful form of social control. All manner of bribery, coercion, reasoning, and stimulation can be used to manipulate people, but if all else fails, killing them will quell their dissension. Violence is effective. It is the last resort because no further response is necessary. And when dealing with people who will never give in, violence often becomes a necessity.

So it seems that we can get rid of violence by getting rid of everyone who will never give in. That way all that is left are reasonable people who will eventually agree without having to resort to violence. However, the reigns of social control tend to go to the people who are very unwilling to give in. They are viewed as having strength, character, and vision, and they are hard to bargain down or make a deal with. They accumulate a following of people who give in easier than they do and often instill in them a similar sense of unwillingness to give in. The result is a group of people of a similar mind and purpose who act on the commands of their leader. Thus, since social orders are founded by those unwilling to give in, it is impossible to get rid of all those with stubborn character. The best that you can do is get rid of everyone who stands against the powers that be and form a uniform society.

However, any group that achieves such uniformity is one that is brittle, and prone to collapse when confronted with new problems. Furthermore, when the leaders of such groups die, there is often a dispute about who will succeed the throne. This leads to internal struggles even before the death of the leader. Additionally, any problem which can be construed to be the fault of bad leadership can bring about internal dissension. In all of these power struggles it is the unwillingness of the competitors to give in that leads to intense disputes and violence. The uniform society is united on the surface, as evident when it declares war on other societies, but divided on the inside and thus never perseveres.

On the other end of the spectrum is a society which is not built around stubborn leaders. These are more flexible to change, but are also very vulnerable to more uniform and determined societies. Lacking the unwillingness to give in they surrender too easily and are soon defeated and enslaved by the powerful. Human history shows all too often how peaceful and open societies routinely get conquered and exploited by those that are singular of purpose.

And so there is a natural succession in human societies to have power coalesce around strong leaders who then clash with others in violent conflicts. Win or lose the leaders eventually fall to internal conflicts. Their power dissipates only to form again around another strong leader. The cycle of violence is never ending.

So what about our society? Aren't we diverse and peaceful? Nothing could be further from the truth. America makes war at the drop of a hat to extend its interests. America uses military and economic threats to manipulate other governments. America cycles through leaders every four or eight years. The capitalist economy thriving in America allows massive and frequent turnover in power and influence. Competition is zealously encouraged and permeates almost every part of daily life in America. Religious freedom has given way to ideological battles in politics. Lawyers do battle for their representatives in civil and criminal cases that are growing in number and packing courtrooms. The divorce rate is increasing. Call-in radio and television shows as well as the internet have become battlegrounds for heated clashes of opinions. And the most popular show on TV was one where producers turned survival, a situation where people need to cooperate, into a winner take all competition. We are not peaceful, and we are uniform in our belief that all the turmoil is a good thing.

Unwillingness to give in is not going away, in fact it is being nurtured and encouraged and grows stronger with every battle. The cycle of violence continues and likewise grows more and more intense. Of course, in America's internal struggles, the violence is mostly psychological instead of physical, but the damage done is just as real.

I invite all comments. If there is a desire for this to become an open discussion, I'll send out responses and replies to all on the Fireaxe mailing list.

More to come.

The Future

Over the years, 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.

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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