The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 6.5

Aug 1, 2003

"God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck at them,
and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did,
and now I am determined to solve the problem in the
Middle East."
- George W. Bush, quoted by Haaretz, in Israel
uttering a novel mixture of blasphemy and stupidity.

Is the USA now a de facto theocracy? With Pat Robertson imploring his flock to pray for a change in the Supreme Court in the hopes that new justices will allow sodomy to be outlawed, George W. Bush acting more and more pious and claiming that his god is directing his actions, and large numbers of Americans rationalizing the illegal, unethical, and immoral activities of their government as being acceptable since they are performed against "evil" people, it would seem that religion is strongly injecting itself into national affairs. However, one layer below the surface lies the true American god, a voracious and starving economic system that is demanding sacrifice upon sacrifice and is intent upon devouring the entire world.

Of course, we believe that if this god is appeased then we will all be "saved". We believe that a world untied under capitalism will bring with it unparalleled prosperity, shorter work hours, higher salaries, and a cornucopia of cool new things to buy. So we feed our great god unquestioningly, with our blood and sweat if we must, and disparage all those slovenly foot draggers who do not believe in the power of the almighty dollar. We tell ourselves that they, the terrorists, hate us because of our great wealth and our democracy, which we believe makes our wealth possible, and we judge each other, our communities, and our cultures by how much we own. We see the fact that we are so rich and powerful as being proof that we follow the one true way. We believe that it is not that might makes right, but that right makes might.

We send out missionaries to teach the heathens about the true path to salvation. We show them the great things that they can have if they gain wealth and offer them loans to help them get what we have made them desire. They learn all about capitalism by trying to work themselves out of debt. But we're very generous. Through droughts and famines, wars and rebellions, we stand by the heathens, offering loan after loan to get them back on their feet and caught up with their neighbors, and if they can't make their payments we accept whatever they have to offer: cheap labor, land, natural resources, businesses, their women, and even their internal organs.

The pyramid scheme is our holy order. We even print a pyramid on every dollar as if it were a sacred symbol. We will graciously allow anyone to get in on the path to great wealth, all they need to do is start at the bottom and work their way up. We can prove that it works. It worked for us and thus it will work for anyone, but we say that it may take a long time and a lot of hard work to get there. Through the miracle of financing we allow anyone to live their dream, and if their credit is good enough they can have everything that they desire. Sure, the interest may be staggering, and the payments may seem to go on forever, but it's not enslavement, it's opportunity. Savings are shunned, even punished, as the mantra of buy now and pay later is chanted around the earth. We do not mind giving our wealth to those higher up the pyramid, since they are so generous to let us borrow theirs.

The virtual enslavement of the earth through debt is our god's chosen method of conquest. The third world is soaked in debt as are the city, state, and federal governments in the first world. The taxpayers must bear the burden and they too are deep in debt trying to live an "American" dream that keeps getting more expensive with each passing day. Corporations lobby for stricter rules for individual bankruptcies while offering credit to anyone who applies. The world is becoming one large debtor's prison. Invisible chains are pulling us under but still we believe ourselves to be free. Our military serves as our repo man, always ready take what is owed us and anything else that isn't nailed down. If you need a job, you can always enlist, and you don't even need to be a US citizen. You probably won't get killed in combat, you probably won't even see combat, and you can proudly wear our country's colors: green.

1 I have no rough cut this time, but that is good news since it means that all the recording for the entire 3 CD "Food for the Gods" project has finally been completed. In place of a rough cut I'm attaching a preview of what the cover art will look like. There is still much work to be done, but the light at the end of the tunnel is bright. And even thought the project is huge, you will not need a loan to buy a copy when it finally comes out. CDs are a lot cheaper than the recording industry claims and as always Fireaxe music is free. Fuck god.

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

Call for a graphic artist

If you've been holding back about offering your artistic services, this is the last call. If got a lot of images to churn out before the booklet is ready and I would love some help. 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.

Art from the Fireaxe studio Ė The "Food for the Gods" CD Cover

Recording on the next Fireaxe CD, "Food for the Gods" is finally completed. It has been a long hard road, over two years in the making and at least a year before that planning and compiling a solid digital home studio. At times it looked like the final day of recording would never come, especially when my own body decided to try and kill me, but the last note has been put in its place and my guitars, keyboard, and microphone are once again at rest. Mixing, mastering, and a whole lot of drawing remains, but the hard part is finally done.

A lot has happened between the beginning of recording and now. I started laying down the tracks for the first song in August, 2001. The song was about ancient Assyria and I had decided to add a strong Middle Eastern flair to the music and vocals. Not long after I started recording came the world shaking events of September 11th and all of the sudden all things Arabic were a target of derision and suspicion. Now, most of what I record goes directly into the sound card of my Mac. I play the guitars through an amplifier simulator to give them body and the drum sounds come out of a machine, so none of my neighbors can hear what I'm doing, which is important since I live in an apartment and I would be kicked out if I insisted on playing a real drum set and belting out take after take of guitar solos through a Marshall stack cranked up to 10. However, the vocals I cannot record direct, and since my singing style is what could be called 'operatic' I need to sing as loud as I can to get the sound that I want. Over the years my voice has become very strong and it carries considerably beyond the walls of my humble studio. So here it is in the days and weeks after 9/11 and I am doing this Arabic wailing at the top of my lungs for all to hear. I half expected the FBI to show up at my door after one of my flag-waving neighbors reported me for performing suspicious activities. I can imagine them overhearing me and saying "Listen to that! Holy Shit! We got one of them Muslim terrorists living right next door!" Fortunately nothing happened.

Another similar test came when I was recording the lyrics for the song "Atrocity". As the title suggests this is a horrifying song, and I pulled no punches with the graphic nature of the lyrics. It is utterly brutal. The lead in paints the initial picture and it gets darker and darker as it goes on:

"No atrocity is complete without a witness to my crime.
Take and innocent child, open his eyes, and fill them with such horrors."

I live in an apartment complex with plenty of young children running around whose parents, at least some of them, are rather paranoid about child molesters. So here I am singing these gory lines about rape, dismemberment, and sadism, over and over again at the top of my lungs, trying to get them right, and wondering all the time when the police were going to come and take me away in handcuffs or a straight-jacket. But still, there were no knocks at my door. My neighbors must be deaf.

The last song I recorded confirmed this theory. There's this wonderful chorus I have in "Storm the Walls" that the legions of damned souls chant in preparation for an attack on heaven. It goes like this:

"Kill, kill, kill the righteous.
Burn, burn, burn the holy.
Spill their blood. Devour their souls.
Smash them, crush them, kill and destroy!"

I had to repeat the chorus four times on five tracks plus numerous extra takes to get exactly what I wanted. How could it not sound to anyone nearby like I was performing some sort of Satanic ritual or I had completely lost my mind? And some of the lines in "The Rape of Heaven" would curdle the blood of anyone save for those who listen to Black Metal music while reading Alistair Crowley. Still, not one complaint. In a way it was disappointing. Has the world become too calloused? Perhaps I'm just not nearly as graphic as I think I am. I mean, modern music has become very brutal. After a few decades of the heaviest bands one-upping each other trying to be the nastiest band in the world, some seriously sick shit has been produced. So portraying a man getting his entrails pulled out of his body during the inquisition is probably just minor league stuff these days. The big league bands can get away with seemingly anything, but then they are backed by highly paid industry lawyers and it's also somewhat hard to understand what they are singing in the first place. In Death and Black metal it is the accepted style to sing as if you were Cookie Monster with a mouth full of Oreos. You can't tell what the words are nor even what language is being sung, which works to the benefit of the many European Black Metal bands. In Gangster Rap the vocalist is usually talking in a rhythm an octave below the normal singing range and gets drowned out by the deafening percussion. In stark contrast to those two styles I enunciate every word, sing in a clear and penetrating tone, and put the vocals up front in the mix. I feel that the words are an important part of Fireaxe music so I make sure that you hear all of them. So when angels are getting their wings ripped off by rampaging demons, you'll hear all about it whether you want to or not. And even if you miss out, it will all be printed out on the lyrics sheet in every gory detail. But as brutal as it is, I know that there will be critics out there who will be disappointed that I didn't go far enough. Sure, nobody rips off Christ's head and shits down his neck, so if that's what gets you off then you should look elsewhere. Perhaps Liberia is a good place to start.

Still, I worry, probably far too much, about becoming the target of some fanatical Christian Crusader or the Department of Homeland inSecurity. There's more than enough content in "Food for the Gods" to make the paranoid believe that I am a threat to America. To all you non-Americans out there reading this I should explain a little bit about the state of things here in the US. Although the laws are in place which allow a police state, thanks to the USA PATRIOT act which was passed with little debate and even less knowledge of the contents by terrified senators and representative, we have yet to descend into one. Bush and Ashcroft have, and have used, the power to declare anyone, even US citizens, as "enemy combatants" who then lose all their rights to due process. They can be held incommunicado indefinitely and neither Bush nor Ashcroft need to provide any evidence of guilt. But aside from these few cases, the persecution of people who are anti-war and/or anti-Bush is openly condoned and occurs on a regular basis in the form of police harassment, job loss, and public ridicule in the media. All this persecution will be taken to more aggressive level should another major terrorist attack occur on US soil. The US is a country which is slowly losing it's sanity. The desire to "do justice" to any perceived wrong-doer in a severe way is growing more powerful in all Americans. For now this amounts to people yelling, insulting, and degrading each other on radio, television, and other media. There's no healthy debate going on, it's just people venting their anger, and the release doesn't make the basic problems go away. But in this environment of frayed nerves and vengeful desires something like "Food for the Gods" could attract a whole lot of negative attention in a big hurry. I doubt that it will seeing as how all the threats towards violent video games and movies have amounted to nothing, and as how an independently produced recording will likely never get any publicity, but if it does I am prepared to go to the mat with the lunatics who would try to attack and debase me.

On a lighter note I'm currently in the mixing stage of "Food for the Gods" and I am very pleased with the sound that I am getting out of my digital studio. All tolled I've spent less than five thousand dollars on equipment and software and in today's world of high-tech, high-priced toys that is a mere pittance. My amp simulator has produced a nice warm and full sound that a lot of people are going to mistake for a live recording. The keyboard and drum sounds are high fidelity samples and they sound great too. I'm also learning more of the tricks of the sound engineering trade and I've crafted a sound that is dynamic, rich, and strong. I can't say that it is as good as what you get from a CD produced in a million dollar studio, nor can I say that it will sound good on every system, but if you have a good set of speakers or a nice pair of headphones you can sit back and enjoy some spectacular epic metal music.

As annoying as it is I can't deny that sound quality is a big part of music. When I released "A Dream of Death", and had to endure reading review after review harping on the harsh nature of the mix on the CD, I knew that I couldn't fight the system. It's true that people are spoiled on the anti-septic sound of CDs and DDD recording methods. Modern techniques allow you to get a perfect bass sound with little or no distortion, produce clean and sonically isolated sounds for each instrument, and doctor vocals to the point where no human could ever produce such sounds but which grab the listener's attention and take his or her breath away. Today's CD sound can come out of any speaker, no matter how tinny or crappy, and sound rich, so no one bothers to get a good sound system anymore. As a result when you play something recorded decades ago, or something recorded at your local studio, after playing something recorded using state-of-the-art methods, it sounds weak. Your ears like the bright and booming sound of a modern CD much better than the muddy sound of anything that came before it. As a result, modern music has evolved to take advantage of modern methods. Hard rock bands pound away on the listener mercilessly. Every instrument is loud and in your face at the same time. Thrash metal from the 80's got crowded and impenetrable when they recorded intense songs, but 00's hardcore comes through in a way that is impossible to achieve in any setting save for a modern digital studio. Even live music pales in comparison to a modern studio recording. The difference translates into appreciation and sales which is why the major labels spend so much on production. Such is the way of the world.

But something is certainly getting lost in all the madness, and that something is the most basic element of art. Art is all about communicating emotions and meaning, and everything else added to the art form serves as a diversion from that central meaning. When your focus shifts to crafting a more wicked sound than everyone else, being more outrageous than the reigning bad boys, appealing to an affluent demographic, writing songs similar to your idols, or restricting yourself from playing styles that aren't macho, popular, or "in", a part of your message gets lost. Whenever I tried to write songs for reasons other than saying what I wanted to say they always came out flat, stale, and uninspired. Most of what I hear on the radio sounds like that. So instead I start with the message that I want to convey and let that message dictate what the music sounds like. If the storyline has an army approaching a town I put in a march. In the subsequent attack I put in parts that are fast and aggressively. In the aftermath I put music that is either glorious and triumphant, or sad and full of regret. The styles I play are constantly changing throughout the entire work, from ones that I've done in previous CDs, to many new ones I've never tried before. There's nothing new about this approach, classical music composers have been doing it for centuries, which explains why "Food for the Gods" sounds a lot like classical music played with modern instruments. I went where the story wanted to go and it took me to places I never imagined I'd go. I think I may have pioneered both Persian and Yiddish metal as well as added new possibilities for Christian and Black metal. The CDs contain diverse elements such as Arabic wailing, a Gregorian chant, readings from obelisks carved in antiquity, the "Lord's Prayer" and other verses from the bible, a vocal only "Malediction" to the goddess Kali, quotes from many historical figures as well as George W. Bush, two guitar solo duels, a church pipe organ, a brass and guitar section introduction, and all manner of vocal styles. Somehow it all comes together seamlessly, flowing from one style to the next on an epic journey from the ancient past to the dark future. Through it all the messages that I want to convey come through loud and clear since I never had to, nor wanted to, compromise on what I wanted to say. Rest assured that "Food for the Gods" is 3 CDs of 100% inspired music. There is no filler. It's all straight from the heart.

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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