The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 6.4

May 31, 2003

"And while the sycophants rejoice in paradise
youíll be here and baptized in hellfire.
The only difference between the heavens and earth
is here you have no illusions."
- Fireaxe "Weclome to my Realm"

Although Jesus may have implored his followers to make the earth as it is in heaven, our world more closely resembles a mixture of both heaven and hell, blessed enclaves and damnable pits separated by fences, walls, borders, and armed soldiers. That is not to say that Christians are the only ones who practice this form of hypocrisy since all ideological systems require ghettos, slums, gulags, and barely livable areas to house those who cannot or do not live up to societal expectations. The powerful set up the rules, dispense justice, and decide who ends up on one side of the tracks and who ends up on the other. They wield godlike power in a godlike manner and the realm of the living resembles the realm of the dead. Heaven is a gated community, and they donít let just anybody in.

Throughout history and in all too many parts of the world today these divisions between the righteous and the condemned attract our attention, and with it our horror, our sympathy, our disdain, our vows to do something about it, and most often our indifference. There are strong reasons for why the divisions can never be erased, the most important of which is that the areas of hell on earth stand as vivid reminders to all who would disobey of what will happen to them if they rebel too loudly or rock the boat too hard. The mass graves, the blighted cities, the scorched earth, and row upon row of mud stained hovels smelling of feces put the fear into those unaccustomed to such squalor and assure their obedience.

But there is one big difference between the Christian myths of heaven and hell and their counterparts on earth, and that is that no matter how bad off you may be, on earth there is always hope for a brighter future. You can believe that one day you, or your children, will live in one of those fancy houses on the other side of the wall, or perhaps that your people will build their own cities of wonder and beauty, and towards that end you will work, akin to a slave, for those who promise you deliverance and glory. Hopes and dreams can serve to quell discontentment and thus it behooves those in power to offer the occasional carrot to those who suffer. Not only do promises hold off the specter of violent revolutions, but if used effectively can allow the powerful to increase the ranks of the damned and lower their status yet more, taking the excess wealth and power for their own. In this way the divisions can be maintained for a long time indeed.

But this does not hold true in the mythological hell, at least in most interpretations of hell, since the damned are made to suffer for all eternity. "Abandon all hope ye who enter here", reads the sign at the gates of hell, and thus there is nothing keeping the damned trapped inside of hell save for the power of the Christian god. Were that power to hold back the damned were for some reason to give way all hell would break loose, so to speak, and a catastrophe of unimaginable fury would result. We know this because weíve seen the same things happen on earth many times, albeit on a smaller scale, which is why it is so important for the powerful to use hope, force, or whatever is necessary to keep everyone in line. And once everyone is put in their place, the powerful can flex their muscles and widen the gap between the blessed and the damned yet further. But therein lies a great danger, for the farther apart the heavens and hells on earth become the more chaos will result if the walls between them to were to give way. So we, the masses, must at all costs be made to believe that things can and will get better even if our senses are telling us exactly the opposite. Our devotions to our faiths are our undoing.

Even though all hell has yet to break loose on earth, you can get a idea of what such an event would be like in the afterlife in the final track of "Food for the Gods". The rough cut sets the stage for the most epic and brutal Fireaxe song yet. "Welcome to my Realm" will take you deep into the heart of hell as you witness the dark side of the Christian mythos. Even better news is that the creator of Fireaxe is not currently in hell. On March 26th I went under the knife and had my left kidney removed along with the fist sized cancer that had consumed most of it. My recovery is coming along fine and I am back in the studio working hard and breathing fire. The most unholy Fireaxe music that I can produce will come to fruition despite the divine attempt to stop it. he he he.

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 - "Welcome to my Realm"

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 fifteenth and probably final preview track is now available as an mp3 for free.

The name of the fifteenth preview track is "Welcome to my Realm" and it is a cut of demonic power metal at its finest. Like many of the other songs on "Food for the Gods", the rough cut is only a part of a larger epic work, and since it is the finale for the entire three CD project, it is the most epic work of them all. In the last newsletter I asked the question, "Where can I possibly go with the final remaining track?", since in the next to last track the entire earth had been destroyed. The answer is to hell and to heaven, well, at least to the more popular versions of those places referred to in Christian mythology. The truth be told, you can always find someone who claims to be a Christian who holds their own novel ideas about the afterlife, or any other part of the belief system for that matter, which will conflict with my portrayal. So to them I would say, "Donít bother to tell me that Iím wrong. I can find a million Christians who disagree with you too. Besides, itís all bullshit anyway so lighten up."

The final epic work, "The Flame Extinguished", begins with a descent into hell. The cries and moans of sinners will fill your ears as they are roasted in the fires of hell for breaking what amounts to an entirely unclear set of divine rules. The guitar kicks in along with a chorus of screams which subsides as I get to vocalize as Satan himself. The music is a dark and heavy and it burns like molten metal. Itís very cool. If it sounds anything like the soundtrack in hell then weíre definitely going to enjoy ourselves down there. The verses describing the suffering, and the Christian Godís role in it all are poetic and profound and give way to a powerful refrain. Satan cries out, "What is our crime?", to which the billions of tortured souls answer, "We will not obey!", "We will not be slaves!", and "We do not believe!". Itís an excellent sing-along and I entice you all to join in so that you can get some practice. After the chanting, Satan promises that God will suffer for what he has done to everyone in hell and rest assured that in the remainder of the song, the promise is made good upon.

Some of the words I put into Satanís mouth are these:

"Itís far better to burn in hell than to serve a tyrant, demanding and cruel."

This is my take on a famous quote which Satan utters in Miltonís "Paradise Lost". Any believer is going to have a problem with my depiction of their god as a cruel tyrant, but the more that you think through the whole idea of eternal suffering and torment for such "offenses" as imagining having sex with a woman, not believing that Jesus was the son of a god, or not being read your last rites by a priest, the more you realize that if such a thing was true then the Christian god belongs in the company of Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein. A believer can argue that the offenses listed above arenít the ones that get you into hell and then propose a list of only the most gross moral violations that almost all people would agree upon as being "evil" as being the ones that get you thrown into the lake of fire. This kind of rationalization is required by believers in order to prop up their concept of a just god. However, when it comes to the punishment fitting the crime, it is impossible to justify eternal damnation. Imagine sentencing a murderer to a year of torture. Every day, all day and all night the prisoner is subjected to whatever form a torture is most painful up to the absolute limits of his physical and mental endurance: electrocution, thumb screws, beatings, anal rape, the rack, anything, and every day the prisoner is made to scream and beg for mercy or death louder and more sincere than the day before. Does that sound like just punishment? For anything? Such a thing is beneath even the most depraved dictators, who usually tire of such meting out such treatment for more than few weeks and end it with release or death, but for the Christian god the torture that violators get sentenced to isnít just for a year, itís a sentence for all eternity, and all for not obeying his commands. That is the definition of tyranny, yet such a god has no end of apologists who will try explaining the basic tenets of their religion in any way they can to make him sound just, reasonable, and right. Christians love their divine dictator, and condone his tyranny, his cruelty, and his indefensible concept of justice.

Here on earth we know that all dictators, no matter how cruel or ruthless, always have a number of people loyal to them who will overlook and rationalize their gravest atrocities. These loyalists are rewarded for their service with power and privilege while those who are disloyal suffer under the dictatorís reign. Just as a dictator wields total power over his subjects in reality, in mythology the Christian god wields total power over the entire universe and everyone in it. All other monotheistic religions follow this pattern as well as most polytheistic religions which are centered around a single "all father". In all of these myths, the universe is a dictatorship. Big Brother is watching you all the time and you cannot escape judgment no matter what you do. Your only hope is to obey the will of the gods. That doesnít sound like freedom, and there is no hope of being liberated from an all powerful divine dictator.

But then, freedom is another myth as defined ideologically today. In the west, people like to believe that they have the freest societies, but in reality the most freedom attainable can only be had in a dictatorship as an elite member of the ruling class. True freedom is having everything taken care of for you so that you can do whatever you want. It is having all your responsibilities disappear, having all barriers removed, and having the world at your beck and call. Such is the life of a king, a queen, a member of a royal family, or being members of a very wealthy or influential family. As long as someone is providing you with a life sheltered from all demands, you are living as free as you can be. What we call freedom in the west generally amounts to what you do with the few hours you have to yourself given the money that youíve earned and the connections that you have made. If youíre poor and working two or more jobs, it isnít much. Freedom in the west also allows you to vilify the leader of your country in the hopes that it might change things but seldom does. But the more influence and wealth you have, the freer you are no matter what the form of government, and the yearning for more freedom leads many to seize more power for themselves, or to follow someone who will add to their freedom. This is the way that dictatorships arise and once they gain momentum they are difficult to stop. The desire for more freedom can be addictive and it is often gained by depriving others of it. Very few people ever experience true freedom or can attain it, but if you are a Christian, you can enjoy true freedom in heaven after paying a price of suffering on earth. All you have to do is become one of your godís toadies, pray to him, and follow all his rules, and you will be taken care of when you die. Even if you canít find it on earth, freedom will be yours in heaven.

Toady is a good synonym for Christian, but there is a far more appropriate term to describe anyone who would bow to a ruler or concept, real or imaginary, in the hopes of gaining favors and avoiding punishment: coward. Like it or not, if you believe in an afterlife where you are rewarded or punished according to a set of divinely determined rules, you are a coward. And like it or not you have been and are being manipulated by people into serving their interests out of fear. The acquiescence of large numbers of people to the will of a man or an ideology is the root of dictatorships and the tendency towards bowing to those in power stems from a sycophantic dependency ingrained in people during their childhood. When a child is brought up believing in an ideological worldview, they become dependent on a powerful figure, whether it be a god, a dictator, a messiah, or any charismatic figure. Such dependency is maintained through periodic conditioning and the dependency on an authority figure can last a lifetime. Also, the figure upon whom a person is dependent can be changed to anyone who wields power given the right words, arguments, aroused feelings, or other methods of transference. In other words, children are taught to be cowards and toadies who are dependent on powerful figures, real or mythical, and the more the dependency is reinforced in childhood, the greater the extent to which they will follow any leader who they see as being similar to those figures. Religious beliefs, nationalistic feelings, and any other ideological leanings are evidence of this conditioning. If the conditioning is strong enough, a person is capable of doing anything asked of them by their leader no matter how atrocious, and they can forgive any immoral act their leader commits since anything their leader does can be defined as moral. Thus, ideological upbringing paves the way for fascism, and democracies are not immune since the children in democratic countries are often raised to stand in awe of their countryís ideals, history, and flag. Citizens enthralled by nationalism are akin to fanatics kneeling at the feet of a god-king. Any country, even the most enlightened societies, when faced with threat or hardship can fall victim to the spells woven by charismatic leaders and can wreak unparalleled destruction and suffering upon the world. Though they may claim to be courageous, their minds are ruled by fear.

But then we are all cowards, at least a little, for we are all obedient members of a larger whole governed by those who owe our views little consideration if any. Our companies and our governments run our lives without our consent for the most part and alternatives to this arrangement are in short supply. It is easy to rebel against all authority, to quit your job, not pay taxes, and declare your individual sovereignty, but such an act would quickly result in you being dumped into one of many "hells on earth" surprisingly quickly. And there are thousands of others willing and able to take your place and serve the system while being thankful for the opportunity. The leagues of the scared and suffering are hardly united in the struggle against those in power and will sell you out as fast as if it were a reflex. So we are forced along, fed through a system which we hope will treat us well if we obey, occasionally fighting the system when we think we can get away with it, and doomed to an existence which is mostly out of our control. And though we may deplore and fight to abolish the hells on earth to ease the suffering of others and provide a softer landing if we stumble and fall, they remain because they supply the fear that drives the machine. If you live in a hell on earth, do not expect those living the good life to pay your cause any more than lip service since they arenít going to risk all for you. And if you think fighting your way up through the system is difficult, fighting to change the system is far harder. It may involve using the most horrifying tactics and making the greatest sacrifices that anyone has ever seen for the weapons at the disposal of the powerful are fearsome indeed. For in reaching up for heaven you are dragging the ones there closer to hell, so expect them to fight like demons to try to stop you.

In "The Flame Extinguished", I apply the theme of total war to the afterlife of the Christian mythology. Although the setting and characters are those from the myths, plus one character of my own, the song is an allegory for an apocalyptic revolution that may one day sweep the earth, a revolution that I implied, but did not describe, in the final part of the previous song, "On Earth as it is in Hell". Setting the song in heaven and hell made it far more epic and brought an intensity which could not be matched if I had been describing earthly events. Another powerful reason I decided to set "The Flame Extinguished" in the Christian afterlife is that simply destroying the world did not bring about the finality that I desired to depict. Although most Christians do not think that the end of the world is a good thing (and some are actually anxiously awaiting it), they can all rest easier believing that an eternity of peace and rejoicing await them no matter what happens to the world around them. Thus, the problems that we face on earth can become of secondary importance to Christians, as disturbing as that may sound. Do you still feel safe with President Bushís finger on the button? But if the afterlife is fraught with the same issues and problems that we face in life, and if we are created in a godís image then it is easy to imagine that it would be, it is naive to expect that all will be well forever after we die. So in essence I am trying to deny Christians their escapist alternative by destroying their cherished afterlife beliefs. I have chosen to do this not just because Christians believe that helping to solve all our social problems arenít their number one priority, but because their beliefs are actually making those problems worse. Will hearing this track help to reform them? Probably not. I think that it will just enflame most of them. But I feel that the destruction of such dreams is essential to the pursuit of truth, which is where we might find our solutions, should they exist.

Also in the final song, but not on the rough cut, are several other stunning tracks. Following, "Welcome to my Realm" is a truly monstrous powerthrash anthem titled "Storm the Walls" which depicts an assault on heaven by an army of demons. This is one of the heaviest, fastest, and most powerful riffs I have ever written which matches the trackís theme perfectly. It is absolutely brutal. The angels get their due in "Aflame", which contains another powerful riff as well as a slow part with a choral accompaniment. It is truly divine. I wouldnít be surprised if Christians ripped the first three tracks of "The Flame Extinguished" off "Food for the Gods" to burn on another CD so that the ending is more to their liking. But in my portrayal, "good" does not triumph over "evil", and an old character returns from the first CD to wreak havoc in "The Sum of All Fears". That track contains a long hellish rock-out section riddled with graphic depictions of horrific events and infused with screaming guitar solos. Itís a ferocious orgy of powerthrash. After that comes a track which needs no additional description beyond its title: "The Rape of Heaven". Enough said.

The final track ties everything together. Iím not going to spoil the ending until youíve had a chance to hear it yourself. Iím only going to say that it is meant to be disturbing to the core of your being. It will make you think, think a lot, and think hard, which was my intent for the whole project.

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

Fireaxe has worked hard to create an environment free of external influences in which to create "Food for the Gods". No recording contracts were sought, no demands by outsiders were acknowledged, and no attention whatsoever was paid to what was popular, novel, or critically acclaimed. Standard industry practices were thrown out, the one CD limit was shattered, and the artist was given full creative control over everything. Evolution thrives in isolation and "Food for the Gods" is unlike anything which has come before it. However, it would not have happened without the support of people like you who are not prejudiced against underground music and who can overlook the shortcomings of self-produced CDs. So pat yourself on the back and enjoy this work when it comes out. Youíve earned it.

"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 late this year. 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

Iíve been focusing so hard on "Food for the Gods" that Iíve had little time to think about what Iíd like to record next. Over the past few months Iíve tossed around some ideas and have come up with a working title and theme. The next Fireaxe work will dig even deeper into the dark crevices of our society and our minds, pull forth the myths that we cling to and hold dear, and expose them all for what they are. While "A Dream of Death" explored the madness of dreams, and "Food for the Gods" described the chaos wrought upon the earth by ideologies, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" will depict the psychological enslavement of the individual in modern times. It will be the darkest Fireaxe work ever. But donít put your order in just yet. After wrapping up "Food for the Gods" Iíll need a while to rest and upgrade my studio. Iím spent.

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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