The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 5.3

March 29, 2002

"So you also outwardly appear righteous to men,
but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."
- Jesus, ranting against the Pharisees but,
as weíre all too familiar with, failing to
prevent his followers from practicing and
improving upon the art of deception.

It seems the natural thing that the powerful take a morally indefensible position. Hypocrisy and double standards flow so freely from those who gain power over others that it would seem the ability to wield power depends upon controlling otherís perceptions and formalizing cognitive dissonance. Take something as basic as theft. When a poor man steals from a rich man it is a crime and the punishment is severe. But when a rich man steals from many poor men it is seldom a crime and any punishment is slight, even though the amount stolen by the rich is often measured in the millions. The rich are allowed to use drugs with an occasional trip to rehab while the poor are seen as addicts who must go to jail. The rich can even get away with murder, but you must be very powerful to succeed. Institutionalizing the practice is necessary, and capital punishment, applied much more often against the poor and minorities, is but a minor example. Hypocrisy is at itís most abhorrent when it comes to atrocities. When your enemy kills civilians for any reason it cannot be justified, but when you do likewise it is regrettable but necessary. When your enemy kills it is aggression, but when you kill it is self defense. When your enemyís soldiers rape your women and cut the heads off your men it shows the depravity of their culture, but when your soldiers do likewise it is just the actions of a few loose cannons. When the most powerful, be they people or nations, cannot part with even the slightest bit of their wealth and influence and bow to the morals and ethics that they preach to others it makes one wonder if morality is a concept that one should adopt at all. Moral restraint makes one weaker, and so it is far more effective to seize the moral high ground with words while taking the low road with deeds. Perhaps the only true code of ethics is the one that lies behind the words of the powerful: Gain power any way that you can, and hold on to it by any means necessary. Cut or be cut. Kill or die.

Coincidentally, "Cut or be Cut" is the name of the latest rough cut from the upcoming Fireaxe CD "Food for the Gods". Bigger news still is that "Food for the Gods" will span more than one CD. Nearly 80 minutes of new material has been recorded and more is on the way. Also, the seven part series "On the Origins of Violence" has been compiled into a single document and is available on the net.

Lastly, the yearly tradition of the April Foolís edition of the Burning Blade will be heading your way very soon. If youíve never read one, prepare yourself for an unrestrained satirical assault on modern music, culture, and on Fireaxe itself. A big ĎHelloí to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. This is the Fireaxe newsletter.

Rough cut from the Fireaxe studio - "Cut or be Cut"

Recording on the next Fireaxe CD, "Food for the Gods" is moving along steadily. The digital studio is working out very well and the sound quality is another major step up from that previously attained in "Lovecraftian Nightmares". The fifth preview track is now available as an mp3 for free.

The name of the fifth preview track is "Cut or be Cut" and it is part of an epic song surrounding the exploits of a fictional character who calls himself the "Servant of Pain". Torn apart by the non-stop warfare between rival gods he concludes that the only path to freedom is the death of all the gods. Gathering an army of those like him who have suffered all their lives under their godsí ever increasing demands he sets out to destroy civilization and sets his sites on the citadel of the most powerful kingdom on earth. Fanaticism, sacrifice, and the power of pure hatred are unleashed as carnage, death, and atrocities ensue.

As much as this might sound like a Sept 11th inspired song I assure you that the groundwork for the lyrics, music, and theme were laid out more than a year ago. The only influence that recent events had on the song was in crystallizing the points that I had already planned to make. Take another look at the section titled "The Future" which I have been including in every issue of "The Burning Blade" since the release of "Lovecraftian Nightmares". It remains unchanged. While not explicitly predicting current events it does dovetail perfectly with everything that has happened. So when you get the opportunity to listen to the rousing march "The Citadel must Fall" with the lyrics, "Throw your bodies against the wall, the Citadel will surely fall" realize that I wrote those words long before Sept 11th. Of course, the song is set the first millennium BC so Iím referring to a desperate assault on a walled city where soldiers sacrifice their lives climbing the wall in an attempt to gain entry, but the underlying feelings, meaning, and motivations parallel those of Al Qaeda flying 767s into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I even got a little nervous when I was singing the lyrics during the recording sessions wondering what the neighbors might be thinking. I wondered if one day Iíd hear a knock on my door and that Iíd be confronted with two FBI agents whoíd haul me away for "questioning". Well, not really, but when you hear this whole thing and feel the intensity of what Iím singing youíll understand what I mean. Itís not going to sit well with people who are suffering from post Sept 11th paranoia. But donít worry, Iím not going to shy away from my message for any reason. I will say what I want to say and those who take offense must respect my right to say it.

The segment "Cut or be Cut" captures the chaos and bloodshed following the Servant of Painís army breaking through the walls of the city. Itís rather graphic, and very intense with its descriptions of the siege. Emotions are running high and brutality gets released. That is the nature of war. You canít expect soldiers who risk their lives, see their friends get killed, and fight with desperate intensity to be able to maintain their civility in the aftermath of a fierce battle. In fact, it is usually those who are more civil in calmer periods that commit the most violent acts in war. This is of particular concern to our modern society where people are brought up with far more civility than in the past. A look at recent wars between "civilized" people, like in WWII, Bosnia, and Chechnya, reveals a horrifying trend towards greater and greater atrocities. We all recoil in shock and horror when we hear of things like the holocaust, rape camps, and systematic executions of soldiers and civilians alike, and we wonder how they could happen, but we do not realize that in similar conditions we would do the exact same things, or worse. And more frightening is the realization that we are actively trying to bring about those conditions as if we were drawn by a compulsion towards violent conflict and brutal justice. Hmm, "as if". Of course, we claim the moral high ground, so our atrocities are justified. In fact, they donít even count as atrocities.

Speaking of atrocities, the segment that follows "Cut or be Cut" (but isnít included in the latest sample - youíll have to wait for it) is named "Atrocity" and it is as graphic and brutal as the title suggests. This song will turn your stomach and make you cringe. Itís the most intense thing that Iíve ever written. But the point is not to make you sick, which it probably will, the point is about atrocities and how they propagate fear, hatred, and anger, and drive people to commit worse atrocities. To get my point across I have to make you "live through" a few atrocities in as much as I can do that with music. Itís a preferable alternative to the real thing of course. You need to see the dynamics of the event from the full perspective. The atrocity creates fear, the fear creates paranoia, the paranoia leads to aggression, resistance to aggression leads to severe punishments against those who do not submit and, if necessary, more atrocities in an effort to teach the other side a lesson. In so doing we come full circle. Every atrocity triggers a worse atrocity in retribution, and so itís easy to see how weíve raised the stakes over the centuries. Even when we try to hold back and act more civil we only delay the moment when an even more brutal assault is unleashed.

Concerning the music, "Cut or be Cut" is classic Fireaxe powerthrash. Screaming lyrics, screaming solos, and driving rhythms that makes you feel the intensity of the battle. The song includes some of my best vocal work ever, from the opening cry to the harmonic chorus at the end I push my voice as far as it will go. Itís a treat for those of you who miss the old "operatic" style metal vocals of days gone by. The final verse breaks into something I like to call the "Kali" chorus. The Servant of Pain isnít completely godless. He holds an affinity towards Kali, the destroyer goddess of the Hindu religion. According to some Hindus, Kali will bring about the end of the world, destroying all of creation, which is perfectly in line with the views of the Servant of Pain. He looks forward to embracing his goddess in death. At the end of the song the heavy rhythm guitars slowly fall away and are replaced with a multi voiced choir chanting "Kali". Itís a strangely beautiful moment within a brutal song.

You can download and listen to the new tracks at the Fireaxe IUMA site

The "Servant of Pain" is not a real person in history, nor is he meant to be a portrayal of anyone. No Kali worshipping army swept across the Middle East destroying everything in its path, at least not to my knowledge. Instead, the Servant of Pain is essentially the incarnation of fear, something that did sweep across the region thousands of years ago and continues to haunt us today with greater force. In that era, pain of a "spiritual" nature was the order of the day. For the first time, humans could no longer follow their leaders blindly. Their gods were no longer infallible, and traditional ways no longer worked. New gods arose, old gods were reinvented, and people were forced to try to figure out which god was the right one. This basic religious question is with us even today, and those who lose their faith in our modern world experience much the same pain and confusion that our ancestors went through. Unlike them however, we have a number of belief systems that have evolved to submerge this psychological pain through various conditioning rituals. Jesus can be credited with laying out the basic formula, or at least popularizing it, but before his methods came about finding relief from the pain was difficult indeed. Psychosomatic illnesses arose and were sometimes quite severe. These illnesses were thought to be caused by demons since priests could exorcise them by exciting religious fervor in the sufferers. The method is understood today as an emotional abreaction and is used to treat the victims of trauma, although usually without the unnecessary religious connotations. In those days there were prophets aplenty, but few that could "heal" those in the throes of psychological pain and Jesus was one of them. In stark contrast to submission as an escape from pain, the Servant of Pain chooses to live with the pain and seeks to quench it at the source. His quest is to destroy all the gods, or at least to die trying. He seeks victory or death and holds nothing sacred in his dramatic assault.

"Food for the Gods" to be a multi-CD project

One CD is not enough to contain "Food for the Gods" and I have no desire to try to force everything I want to put into this project on to an 80 minute disk. The average Fireaxe song is over 7 minutes long and seldom follows typical song structure. This is something that has been true since the very first release. Iíve never been one to follow musical conventions or to let arbitrarily defined limits impose on my creations, and thus the one CD limit on musical releases will not be an exception. It will be done when Iím done with it.

Which puts me in a quandary. The material I have lined up to record plus the time to mix and master everything could easily push the release to next year, perhaps even a year from now, and that is a long time for you to wait, especially since itís been a couple years since the last Fireaxe CD. I suppose that getting more than 1 CD with "Food for the Gods" will make up for the long wait, but I feel obligated to offer something in the meantime, something more than a few mp3s to download to whet your appetite.

Iím reluctant to release "Food for the Gods" piecemeal, with the first CD coming out soon and the next in a year or so. Iíd like the work to be complete. Itís a concept project and I want to present it to you as a cohesive whole. However, for those of you out there who are hungry for a taste of the new project Iíd be happy to send you a copy of the first CD in unmastered form. There will be no booklet, no insert, no label, maybe just "Fireaxe - Food for the Gods" scribbled on the disk itself, but it would be packed with the very latest Fireaxe music.

Iíd be very interested in hearing what you think about this idea. Send me e-mail and give me your thoughts or to request an advance copy. Your feedback is appreciated.

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

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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