The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 6.2

Feb 2, 2003

"The more we fought for love,
the more it faded away.
And as it slipped through our fingers,
our love turned into hate."
- Fireaxe "Waiting for Tomorrow"

Love and hate, us and them, good and evil. It is unfortunate that we insist upon creating so many false dichotomies to explain the world around us. In dividing the world between the things we embrace and the things we abhor we can justify all manner of depraved acts, and the more passionately we feel about our divisions, the more depraved we can behave. For some the world is black and white, for others shades of gray, but nature has made no such distinctions. They are solely the creation of human beings.

Modern humans live in a world of confusion and chaos. The simplicity of life a million years ago has long since been overrun by complexities that far exceed anyoneís ability to understand them. In this world people are at a loss for clarity. The implications of their actions are uncertain. What everyone needs is someone in a position of authority to make the complex simple, to remove ambiguities, and to make it clear what directions need to be taken. The simplest explanation is to use the simplest terms, right and wrong, good and evil, life and death. Our leaders connect ambiguities in the world to the accepted definitions of right and wrong within our ideologies and give us clarity, sparing us the task of investigate the issues and make these decisions on our own.

Of course, we canít do everything ourselves. If we tried we would be burdened with far too much information and be incapable of sorting things out. But even for those things we do take upon ourselves to think about, by perceiving the world through our ideological dichotomies we simply propagate the depravity we wish to abolish.

All our dichotomies, religious and secular, seem to flow from the basic dichotomy of love and hate. We like to believe that the two are separate and distinct but they are simply two sides of the same coin. Hate is what we feel when what we love is threatened or taken from us. Love is what we feel when what we hate is isolated or destroyed. The more we love, the more we can hate and vice-versa. Our capacity for both is increased through ideological conditioning which also connects other dichotomies: good and evil, us and them, right and wrong; to the basics of love and hate. We are right, good, and act out of love. They are wrong, evil, and act out of hate. Ideologies polarize the world.

Our devotion to that which we love blinds us from seeing the other side of our passions. If all love is good and right then more is better and this logic drives us champion our causes in all righteousness in the belief that evil is being vanquished, perhaps even for all time. But we do not see that we cannot have love without hate, good without evil, and right without wrong. Making one side of the coin larger makes the other side larger as well and our crusades are in vain. When we spread love we also spread hate, and when we do good we also do evil. But this has not stopped us in the past and it is unlikely to in the future. Our false dichotomies are destructive obsessions.

The origins of love and hate, how they become obsessions, and the sad consequences of our actions are the subject of the latest rough cut from "Food for the Gods". "Waiting for Tomorrow" tells the tale of love, hate, and all the emotions and events surrounding the most passionate moments of a personís life. And although you are still "waiting for tomorrow" patiently for the final tracks to be recorded for "Food for the Gods", know that it wonít be long before the project is completed. The last half of the third and final CD is all that remains undone. Lastly, Fireaxe is also in need of one or more talented artists to create some of the art for "Food for the Gods". If this is you, or you know someone who can generate cool images on their computer. Send me an e-mail.

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

Call for a graphic artist

Itís getting to be that time when I need to start thinking about the non-musical aspects of "Food for the Gods". The most pressing of which is finding someone to share the workload for doing the art for the CD. Iíll be putting all the words into a booklet, which is going to make the booklet quite large. And since Iíd like to put imagery related to each track in the booklet, itís going to take a lot of work. If anyone out there is interested. Show me your stuff. If you know anyone who is interested, let them know about this opportunity. You donít need to be a professional artist, you just need to be good, and you will get paid for your efforts. My goal is to create a thing of beauty. The insert imagery doesnít have to be cover art quality, it just has to look cool and add to the overall mood of the track in question. It should be something youíd enjoy looking at while listening to the CD and reading the lyrics as you went along. If this sounds like something that youíd like to be a part of, or if you know someone whoís good at this sort of thing, send me an e-mail. Also, if you are Kevin Dvorscak, send me an e-mail as your old address no longer works. I could use your help again.

Rough cut from the Fireaxe studio - "Waiting for Tomorrow"

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 thirteenth preview track is now available as an mp3 for free.

The name of the thirteenth preview track is "Waiting for Tomorrow" and it is about the birth, life, and death of love through the cycle of a personís life. The cut is part of another epic track on "Food for the Gods" which lasts fifteen minutes and steps through four phases of life: childhood, youth, maturity, and death. Long epic tracks are the hallmark of "Food for the Gods". The length allows me to dig deeply into the subject matter and explore each song both musically and philosophically, and "Waiting for Tomorrow" is no exception.

In "Food for the Gods", each epic stands on its own, but they also blend together to form the core theme of the project. "Waiting for Tomorrow" is one of the keys that unlocks the whole meaning of the combined work. Although "Food for the Gods" is rife with depictions of war, violence, sadism, and suffering from the distant past up to the present day, love is very much a part of all that "evil". When most of us look back on the past, our past, it is often in disbelief. We simply canít imagine that people did such cruel things to others or why they would act in such a depraved manner, and we often view the past through our prism of dichotomies and conclude that the perpetrators were evil people acting out of hatred, or at least they were good people who were misled from the true path. But in "Food for the Gods" I have not made such a superficial judgment, nor attempted to distance our modern society from the depraved acts of the past in order to preserve the sanctity of any ideology. Instead I have chosen to take the listener back into the past and witness the subject matter at first hand, using the very words spoken and written by our ancestors wherever possible. Doing so gives the listener a glimpse of what history was really about, as opposed to what the media industries want us to see in their romantic and usually completely wrong retellings of historic events. "Food for the Gods" is not about noble heroes and despicable villains fighting each other as part of the epic battle between good and evil, itís about reality, and in reality, the driving force behind all atrocities is not hate, but love.

This is the point that I have gone to great lengths to make clear in "Food for the Gods". Whether it is the devotion of a charioteer to his goddess Ishtar, a pharaohís love of his god and his queen, a prophetís love for his people, or a priestís love for his church, the emotions and motivations for war and conquest all focus around things believed to be of such goodness that they could never be wrong. But when looking back we often come to other conclusions. When considering atrocities deep in the past most people can be objective, but when considering acts of depravity in more modern times, where the justifications tread closely upon what people believe in today, objectivity often gives way to subjectivity and atrocities are defended and described as necessities, even when such arguments fly in the face of all logic. But profaning the sacred is a common subject for Fireaxe, and in taking on the subject of love and showing it to be the source of all depravity I am assaulting the very core of all that is sacred. So before I go into the explanation of the song, I ask you to open your mind about the subject as far as possible and read what I have written. After that you can slam it shut, cancel your subscription to "The Burning Blade", and write me off as a loon if you so desire. However, if you are also compelled to see me committed to a mental institution because of my unique perspective, I ask you to please wait until after I get this musical project completed, then you can get out the straight-jacket.

What we feel as love is a fundamental drive present in all mammals. It is a simple feeling that ties us to our family, group, and all things close to us. But relative to what modern humans feel, the drive is not very strong. In civilized humans, and to a lesser degree in domesticated animals, the emotions of love have been sensitized to such a degree that feeling it can be physically as well as psychologically overwhelming. Of this there is little doubt. Love is perhaps the most wonderful thing that a person can ever feel, and itís loss can often bring on the most profound depression. Nothing feels better, and is more motivating, than doing something for love, and it is for this reason that sensitizing and tapping this emotion is the most critical part of the socialization process, the purpose of which is to make each individual obedient to the ideology of the whole. In organized religion, the goal is for each believer to love a god with all of their heart. Love of a god is the highest form of love, and all other forms are both enabled by it and subservient to it, or so the dogma tells us. Non-religious ideologies follow a similar pattern, but substitute some other concept or ideal in place of a god. Thus, all of us are made to pledge our devotion to a god, a king, a country, or ideals like freedom, liberty, brotherhood, etc., which unite us, protect us from all ills, and empower us to pursue happiness. This creates a bond between a person and an ideology which rewards each person with a feeling of security while also giving the ideology tremendous power over the individual. The significance of this bond is profound. When the ideology is attacked, the act will be interpreted as a personal assault on the adherents of that ideology, who will retaliate with a sometimes fanatical devotion. Note how after September 11th, president Bush spoke of the attacks as being directed at the cornerstones of our ideology: freedom and democracy; and not at two skyscrapers owned by a rich corporation. He and others also invoked the concept of a god, which was of course seen as abhorring the act. In doing so Bush made the connection with all Americans that what they loved the most was under attack, and the result was a strong feeling of hatred that was soon crafted into resolve. Was the US blinded by this hate? Yes. Americans simply turned the other way when unspeakable atrocities were committed by the US and its allies. And it seems that we are still blinded by hate, condoning the violation, torture, and deaths of thousands of innocents. But of course, Americans do not see what they did and are still doing in response as stemming from hatred, they see their country doing it all in the name of love of freedom, democracy, and god. And while the current level of resolve is not enough to justify any action, if another major terrorist attack were to occur in the US, all manner of atrocities committed in retaliation would very likely be condoned. But before we accuse the other side of being evil and full of hate and saying that we are responding with righteous anger and justice, consider that the enemies too have a strong love for their families, religion, and god, and they too have suffered from attacks on what they hold dear. The battle is good versus good, or evil versus evil, however you want to look at it. But all the finger pointing and accusations of who started it ignore the driving force behind the conflict, an undying love towards an ideology on both sides.

Here is where most discussions turn to the subject of moral absolutes, which Iíll deal with briefly. The concept of a moral absolute is one where there are definitive actions which can be described as good and evil. It is generally believed that some deity stands in judgment of people after their death, sorting out the good from the evil. While this all sounds good, it doesnít stop people from running amok on earth. And so moral codes and punishment are applied by humans using their own judgment and often claiming to have some special knowledge or authority granted by a god to do that godís work on earth in his place. Of course, we can all claim to be speaking for a god, and no one can prove otherwise, which makes moral absolutes simply a matter of opinion. But if there is one thing that history has shown, it is that the one moral absolute that you can count on is that might makes right. Justice is merely the final act of revenge that the other side cannot answer. The only problem with this standard is that those who have the might generally do not keep it for very long and grudges held for centuries erupt anew when might changes hands. But regardless of all this, we all want clarity, and so we will embrace the idea of moral absolutes, especially when the absolutes in question support our own interests.

The process of sensitizing someone to feel love as strongly as possible occurs mostly during childhood, but goes on through oneís entire life. Although showing a child love as a reward for appropriate behavior is a strong form of conditioning, the most powerful conditioning of all occurs when frequent positive reinforcement is combined with infrequent but regular punishment. Now, too much punishment negates the conditioning, possibly leading to neuroses, and too little punishment leads to a lack of sensitization and motivation, but the right mixture heightens the need for love to levels that cannot be attained with rewards alone. Thus, while giving a child a lot of love and no punishment sensitizes them to feel a love bond, giving a child occasional harsh punishments increases their sensitivity to a far greater degree. The result are children who are highly motivated, but who have lost their innocence. In the first part of "Waiting for Tomorrow", the concept of innocence defiled is explored. To a child, love is simple and pure, but when more is demanded of them than they can deliver, or when their curiosity causes them to break social norms, the ensuing punishment separates them from that love. The child, and the parent as well, feel anxiety and agony during the punishment with long lasting effects. How many of us have strong memories of those moments of confusion and shame decades later? But after the punishment is over and the bond of love is reestablished, the relief is more profound. We can feel more love, but how we feel that love has changed forever. Love is no longer pure and simple, it is distant and bittersweet, carrying with it the feelings of pain and betrayal. It is this distancing from love that makes us crave it all the more.

In the second part of "Waiting for Tomorrow", which is the part I took the rough cut from, I explore the search for the long lost feeling of pure love in romantic love. In our dreams we long to find a person who we can love with all of our heart, but in reality it never seems to work out that way. This is because the process of sensitization has associated the feeling of love with feelings of anxiety, shame, depression, and many other unpleasant emotions which occurred during punishment. The closer we get to feeling the pure love of the past the more unpleasant emotions are brought back along with it, making what we seek impossible to find. Pure love can no longer be felt, it is always mixed with pain and fear. We respond by stopping short of feeling all these emotions, resisting romance and intimacy. And when our relationships do not work out, more feelings of anxiety, shame, and depression are added to those we already associate with love and we close the door even farther. In the end we settle for something less than pure love, and desperately try not to reopen old wounds while lamenting a need that cannot be fulfilled. Worst of all, these wounds are like scars, they do not heal. This is the human condition.

In the third part of "Waiting for Tomorrow" I explore the quest to restore the long lost feeling of pure love by appeasing a god or strengthening an ideology. When love cannot be found in a living person, the search often extends to something intangible, such as a god, a dead parent, a famous but distant person, an imagined person, or a future generation of people. This appeasement is often in the form of war, conquest, or achievement of some kind with the person feeling the need to do something exceptional to prove themselves worthy of the love they crave. Because of their strong conditioning, proving themselves worthy actually brings with it the feelings of love despite the fact that the intangible entity is either not real or otherwise not able to show their love and approval. This feeling of love is often interpreted as "spiritual" even though it is merely the result of conditioning to neutral stimulus. The more distant love seems to be, the more desire a person has to regain it. This intense desire motivates a person to overcome any and all obstacles to achieve their goal, moral or not. A person becomes capable of all manner of depravity, atrocity, and sadism in their attempt to regain the feeling of pure love. In this respect the rapist and the conqueror, the murderer and the martyr, and the thief and the self-made millionaire, all share a common bond, a desire that pushes them past all limitations. They are all fighting for love against improbable odds, fighting the good fight, or doing whatever is necessary to achieve some righteous goal. But we do not wish to associate our personal feelings of love with the force that drives others to commit acts that we feel are abhorrent, and so we divide the world in two with our false dichotomies and say that those people are driven by hate instead of love. The difference is only semantic, being determined by our particular ideology and perspective. There is no evil in the world, only people led by there desire for love who clash against each other and are determined to win whatever the cost. Each side calls the other evil and themselves good. And as abhorrent as some of the things they do may be, it is all done in the name of love.

In the final part of the track I describe the human condition with the phrase "waiting for tomorrow". This is how we go through life. The love we seek is unattainable. But as long as we can cling to some sliver of hope no matter how improbable it may be, we wait for the day when it will finally be ours. We are always waiting for tomorrow.

The music is as sad and moving as the theme. Once again I use a mixture of piano and vocals to create a feeling that is full of both hope and longing. It rises and falls and is very pretty. I use the phrase "At play in the fields of the Lord" several times in the song, substituting "work", "war", and "peace" for "play" in each section. I know that itís a title to a book and a movie, but it captures the feel of the song perfectly, so I decided to go ahead and use it. No word seems to describe the feeling of an intangible being whose love we must regain better than "Lord" or "God". After the piano section the mood quickly rises with laments of lost love which then descends into a slow section with a chord progression that matches the slow descent. It is in this section where the lamentations reach a poignant crescendo, ending with one of many desperate acts we undertake during our lives to deal with the crushing pain of a yearning that we can never seem to satisfy. This leads into the songís chorus which echoes across the world in its impact:

"And we would believe everything was alright.
Another cross to bear. Another scar to hide.
Clinging to a dream at the end of the pain.
Another straw on the camelís back."

The feel of the music during this chorus also gives the impression that everything will be all right, that all we need to do is swallow a little more pain and suffering. I believe that this describes far too many people in the world today if not everyone. We seem to be able to endure endless amount of suffering while clinging to a distant hope that makes the pain bearable. Itís not a pleasant way to live, but we are not given a better alternative. We can only hope that tomorrow is better.

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

This concludes the Fireaxe assault on love, the sum total of everything that you hold dear. You may now close your mind to itís previous state of acceptance of alternative viewpoints.

Once again I am confronted with the non-marketability aspect of nihilism. Not that I want to be marketable, of course, but it is rather amusing. Suppose that I am right. I am like the mechanic telling you that your car cannot be fixed. I am like the doctor telling you that you have six months to live. Who would pay to hear that? Of course, if lies, myths, and impossible dreams are the only things that people want to hear, it does go a long way of explaining why things are the way they are.

"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. "Food for the Gods" needs to span three CDs, and so three CDs it will be.

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 three CDs 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

Back to the Burning Blade Index