The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 7.1

Dec 5, 2003

"The victims we trample are poor and wretched men.
They have no hope against us,
but they fight 'cause they have nothing left."
- Fireaxe, "The Insatiable Dream"

Coming close to death changes you, and not always for the better. Although as I slowly became more and more fatigued as the cancer within me grew and I felt that if I kept getting worse that I wouldn't see another year, the idea that I was near death's door didn't truly come home until the surgeon looked at my CAT scan and said, and I quote, "Shit!". The cancer in my kidney was large, so large that part of one of my ribs had to be removed to get it out, and there were grave concerns that a tumor that size would not be fully encapsulated, meaning that it had probably already spread to other parts of my body. So far nothing has been found, but cancer is an unpredictable disease, and any test I take could show its return.

I remember driving back from the doctor's office after getting the news. The one thing I kept thinking over and over was, "You asked for it, and now you've got it." I'm not suicidal, but there have been a number of times in my life where things just seemed to be too fucked up to be fixed. I never attempted suicide, nor wished for death, but in those trying times I truly wouldn't have minded seeing the grim reaper at the door with my name at the top of his list. What a wonderful excuse it would be, when your life is a shambles and there's no hope in site, to have your time come up so that you don't have to dig yourself out of yet another deep hole. But I've never tried to tip fate's hand, and so whenever life serves up a shit sandwich I do what I always do: sit down and take a big bite. I always tell myself that death will come soon enough, there's no need to rush it.

I feel sorry for those people who deny themselves the opportunity to look death straight in the face. You never have to accept death. You can get on your knees and beg your god to save you, making a coward and a fool out of yourself. You can deny that you will ever die, concocting whatever afterlife story brings you comfort. Or you can expect that you will not die this time around, believing whole heartedly that the doctors will save you, and never thinking about the time when they can do nothing to help you. Denial isn't only for the religious even though it seems to be a prerequisite, and most of us are too scared of death to even contemplate it. I feel sorry for those in denial because until you really face death you never really understand what life is all about. This is probably for the better, because life is one big steaming pile of bullshit. Coming close to death is like emerging from the pile and suddenly realizing that we're all buried in feces. When you don't die your first reaction is not to jump back in, but to break out a fire hose.

I never really understood suicide bombers until I was at death's door. When you're dying you never want to just go away. You feel that if you could give your life to further some noble cause then you could at least die contented. Forget about 70 virgins in heaven, forget about the glory of Allah, and forget about religion entirely. The best reason worth dying for is to give a gift to those who live. Your family, your friends, and your countrymen mean far more than any myths, so when you reach the point where you can no longer bear how others are being treated, and their lives as well as yours have been reduced to being worth little or nothing, you have no problems giving up your life to try to save theirs. It is in essence the same noble cause that all soldiers believe in when they go off to fight, but in the case of a suicide bomber it is more deeply felt, since a suicide bomber knows that there is no chance of coming back alive. Suicide bombers are not driven by anger and hate and a thirst to bring death, but by love and devotion and a desire to save lives.

Our media has trained us to believe otherwise. We've been told that suicide bombers are bloodthirsty murderers who are brainwashed by cowardly, hate-filled fanatics to slaughter innocents in the name of their god. Of course, much killing is done in the name of (fill in the blank), but it is not necessary to invoke the name of a deity when rape, torture, and murder become all too common. When life becomes too painful, death is a reasonable option, and when you realize that a friend or relative who you watched being buried could just as easily have been you, dying to prevent others from the same fate is a tradeoff with a powerful emotional logic behind it. It is the same instinct that drives mothers of all species to fight for and sometimes die to protect their young. There is no denying that suicide bombers are used as pawns in political and military struggles, just as are soldiers, agents, and mercenaries, and thus many are asked to commit atrocities which are justified as being for the greater good. But the fact that there are so many who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice should be the focus of our concern, not their selection of targets or their death toll. When we watch from our positions of comfort, we do not feel what they are feeling, and we cannot imagine why they can't just go about living their lives as we do. To us it looks like insanity, or evil incarnate. The trouble is, when suicide bombers are effective, and they make us feel like they do, we are filled with the same desire to defend ourselves, whatever it takes, and we fan the fires of destruction.

I'm trying to get "Food for the Gods" to you as soon as possible, whatever it takes, but the printing shop that I commissioned to do the booklets and tray cards has choked big time. The first print run had several pages of the booklet screwed up and was completely unacceptable. I took it back and they agreed to do another run but one of their printing machines broke down. What a pain. In retrospect I shouldn't have angered the gods since they've obviously conspired to thwart my attempt to release my CDs, so I now humbly apologize to those petty, self-righteous, bastards and invite them to spend more than a little time with me when I get to my infernal resting place. In any event, if the printer actually does get his machines fixed and finishes the job correctly there will still be a two week delay on the release. If he doesn't, he will know my wrath and fury. Words cannot fully describe my feelings about the printer I was referred to and his lack of professionalism, but "motherfucker" is a good start. A big ĎHelloí to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. This is the Fireaxe newsletter.

Fireaxe website updated

For the first time in what seems like ages, the Fireaxe website has been updated. The front page has a new look which is more in line with what people have come to expect when visiting websites, but the style of the other pages remains the same. I think that the pseudo- frames appearance is good for the index page, but I favor the total immersion style for the other pages. By "total immersion" I mean a page without a navigation bar and title occupying part of the screen. The drawback of that style is that you have to hit the "back" button to get back to where you started instead of hopping laterally from page to page. I tried using the pseudo-frames style but it just didn't look good to me. Anyway, the page names haven't changed so all your links to the site will still work.

Added are pages for "Food for the Gods" and "Victory or Death", and I separated out the Fireaxe merchandise info from the about page. It looks better, is a little more coherent, and is wonderfully free of ads, external links, animated pictures, javascript, and applets. The pages download fast and look nice the old fashioned way. Call me a stick in the mud, but flashing banner ads, gimmicks, hidden links, and downloading delays drive me nuts. The internet is really beginning to resemble the infinitely tacky Las Vegas strip.

Also, for those of you who aren't aware, I have put the lyrics for all the Fireaxe songs up on the website. To find them you need to go into one of the CD pages and click one of the "full lyrics" links. That will take you to the lyrics page for each CD and position you at the song you selected. On those pages you can find the lyrics for "Unholy Rapture", "Lovecraftian Nightmares", and "Victory or Death" which you might have wanted to do since those releases do not include the lyrics in the booklet. The "Unholy Rapture" tape lacks lyrics due to it being my first release, the "Victory or Death" CD lacks lyrics because it is intended as a promotional CD, and the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" CD lacks lyrics because even more than half a century after H.P.Lovecraft's death, there are still copyright issues regarding his works, so I decided not to reprint them. And though I could have put the lyrics to "Whispers in the Night" and "Hounds of Tindalos" inside the 4 page booklet, I couldn't bring myself to covering up Georgia's lovely face and body. So if you want to know what I am singing, it is all on the website. Also, due to space constraints, some of the lyrics had to be omitted from the "Food for the Gods" booklet despite it being 40 pages long. In those cases I was left with a choice of having nicely arranged text or having everything crammed into the frame. I chose the former. When I omitted some of the lyrics, I mostly selected the spoken word parts since those are very clear, but there are a few parts where I left out sung lyrics and backing vocals. So if you want to know every word I say and sing for sure, the Fireaxe website contains them all.

Lastly, the reviews page isn't strictly for reviews that appear formally in magazines or in internet forums. I've been known to take comments out of e-mails and letters and put them up on my site. So if you have things you'd like to say, good or bad, about any Fireaxe release, don't be shy about sending me an e-mail and telling me all about it. You may find yourself quoted on the Fireaxe website.

"Food for the Gods" is released - sort of

I apologize for the delay. Unfortunately I announced the release before I received the CDs, booklets, and tray cards. I didnít expect glitches, going with professional shops, but I should have. So now I have to announce that the release is delayed and I am as frustrated about that as anyone. I had planned to hand deliver a number of copies next week as I have a trip scheduled, but now I am going to show up empty handed. That sucks. Anyway, on to better news.

If you missed the last newsletter you missed the triumphant release issue for "Food for the Gods" where I described in great detail the recording methods for the project and my thoughts on metal in general. No sooner than when I released the 3 CD set I received a number of orders for it and so I can tell that at least a few of you out there are reading my mad ravings. There are a few things that I missed telling you about the new CDs and so I will do so here. One newsletter was not enough.

I got a letter in which one listener lamented the quality of CDRs and was overjoyed to hear that the new "Food for the Gods" CDs were manufactured using the pressing process. Well, I hate to disappoint him, and you, but I only ordered 100 copies of each CD which meant that the only economical method was to burn the disks to CDRs. Generally speaking, having CDs pressed only becomes economically viable when your order is 1000 or more copies. This is because the glass master disk required for the pressings costs $500 by itself. However, the cost per CD drops dramatically for pressing compared to burning, making it far cheaper for large volumes. The cost cutoff is somewhere around 500 CDs. So why didn't I order a thousand copies? Believe it or not, in the 4 or more years since the releases of "A Dream of Death" and "Lovecraftian Nightmares" I have yet to send out over 100 copies of either CD, although I am close to 100 for both. If I'd ordered 1000 copies of those CDs, I'd still have boxes and boxes of them packed away in a closet somewhere. So until the demand rises you'll have to settle for Fireaxe CDRs. However, for "Food for the Gods" and "Victory or Death", the CDRs were burned at a professional duplication house and not on my home computer, for whatever that is worth. Of course, if there are any problems with any Fireaxe CDs or booklets I will be happy to replace them for free. Although I try to make sure that everything is good quality, I can't listen to each CD I send out, so tell me if there's something wrong.

Getting a following of more than 100 people willing to buy your CDs is not an easy task, especially for someone who does not have a band or a label and cannot promote their music by performing it live. This situation is made more difficult by the major labels trying to control every outlet where music is sold and played and also by the fact that there are approximately three gazillion bands out there who all want you to hear their music. I have no desire to be a rock star or have a CD go platinum but getting to the 1000 CD plateau would make things easier for me on the manufacturing side. I got a tour of the duplication factory's floor and they have some seriously cool machines where everything is automated. There is one where you load in the finished CDs, booklets, and tray cards, and shrink wrapped CDs come out the other end, fully assembled. Plus, all the CDs would be pressed from a glass master, which will make all you perfectionists out there happy. So if you want Fireaxe to release pressed CDs, you can do your part by increasing the exposure of Fireaxe music. Feel free to copy the Fireaxe CDs as much as you want as well as make mp3s of the songs on them and make them available on the internet. I have no problems with file swapping of any Fireaxe music or the free trading of CDs. The only thing I have a problem with is profiteering and I request that you only include a fair markup on any Fireaxe music that you sell. If you're not sure what a fair markup would be, you can e-mail me. As a general rule, a couple of dollars is fair, the industry standard is not. If you want to manufacture and distribute Fireaxe CDs, I can send you a disk containing the artwork for all the booklets, tray cards, and labels. With that disk, along with the music CDs, you can produce all the Fireaxe CDs that you want. In any case, the only payment I require is that I be kept informed about how much Fireaxe is getting distributed or reviewed or played publicly. I like to put parts of reviews or full reviews on the Fireaxe website so send me links if you write them. Also if Fireaxe becomes an underground success I'd like to know about it. With the way the internet is it is hard to tell exactly how many people have heard and heard of Fireaxe. I keep thinking that there are people out there with mp3s of Fireaxe songs who dig them but don't know who wrote them. I'd really like for them to know.

There are a few minor production problems on the "Food for the Gods" CDs. I know that there are a few spots where the mix is slightly over digital zero. It will sound like static in those spots but not all speakers will reveal it. When I was recording and mixing I couldn't hear any problems at all, but in the last week they popped out on one set of speakers. I fixed them everywhere I could, but there were two parts in particular I could do little about. These are when Jehovah shouts at Moses at the beginning of "The Covenant" and during the "VOD, Victory or Death" chant in "The Siren's Song". In both cases I had already mixed the vocal parts together with effects onto a single track and deleted the original tracks. The mixed tracks had spots over digital zero and without the original tracks I couldn't easily make another mix file without the errors. To be honest, peaking in those spots doesn't sound too bad. There are also levels here and there that I'd like to adjust, some EQ settings that I'd like to change, and a few parts which I want to tweak to reach a better mix. I am very satisfied on the whole, but if another production run is necessary, I'll take one more stab and correct everything that I feel needs it. Rest assured that if a remix and glass master pressing should come to pass that you will be able to get a new copy for free, well, as long as you don't say that the first copy is better.

"Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" takes form

No sooner than when the great weight of completing "Food for the Gods" was lifted from my shoulders, my mind began to fill with ideas for the next Fireaxe project. As you might imagine by the title, the themes for the new CD are going to be dark, very dark in fact. While I was writing down my thoughts I discovered that the darker I made them, the more powerful they became. My goal is to move you, and so I will not hold back at all and delve into the most horrid extremes known to humanity. Yet the songs will still be accessible to people like you and I. We are not average people by any stretch, but most of our lives are spent saying common things and doing common activities. The exceptional times in our lives are few and far between and while our minds have often imagined that we might experience wonderful successes or hideous failures, the outcomes we live through are generally rather mundane. When described that way it seems that our lives are disappointing, even depressing. But although our lives are calm on the surface, deep within us there is turmoil and explosiveness, and it is that turmoil that drives us to do what we do. Minor confrontations and issues with others become epic in scale within our mind's eye. Our sports teams and companies do not just compete, they fight wars for territory and supremacy. We find it easy to describe these clashes in terms usually associated only with armed conflict. We kill and slaughter our opponents, shooting them down and burying them, although in reality we only outscore them by a wide margin or do more business for a quarter. Vulgar and violent words flow easily when we describe our daily activities for although our actions pale in comparison to the true meanings of the words, our actions feel more serious, more pressing, and more exciting when we use extreme terms. This is not just an illusion. In many ways, our mundane daily lives become exceptional because we make them so.

If we imagine our tasks as life and death struggles and see ourselves as our favorite action heroes we find greater motivation to win on our fields of battle. We make greater sacrifices and we revel in greater joy when we are victorious. Through the power of symbols we turn our lives into peak experiences and crushing defeats, living out the glories of our heroes and feeling their despair when we lose. We become like them, for better or for worse. Yes, life becomes more stressful as a result, and it can be agonizing when we fail, but the rewards for victory are amplified as well and make the risks seem worth while. But it is important to note that this imagery does not originate from within. We are immersed in a culture which portrays life as a constant and desperate struggle. Capitalism holds competition as a basic tenet, but the concept goes back thousands of years. Religion is all about a titanic struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil with mortals caught in the middle, their souls on the line. The struggle, the amplified fear of failure and promise of glorious success, fuels believers to reach greater heights and thus those who embrace it are often driven to excellence. But because the taste of pure victory is so addictive it becomes necessary to find manifestations of evil so that they can be defeated and feed the insatiable lust. Depicting life as a great struggle is not a concept which is waning, but one which is constantly growing stronger. We are continually seeking out enemies because we need to feel the rush of victory. We endlessly pursue the extreme.

I have done this in jest, depicting the release of "Food for the Gods" as a struggle between me and one or more gods who were bent on killing me and destroying my studio. And in my newsletters I've lambasted many, the US government and the RIAA to name a few, for fueling the flow towards extremism and suffering, but my intent was always to describe, which is why I hold back when it comes to suggesting a course of action. I don't think that we know enough about our world to reliably fix any of the problems within it without creating more of them. I think that we may never be so wise. And so I see those who have solutions to problems which they do not fully comprehend as believing in ideologies, and as having faith in their unproven solutions when it is possible that faith itself is the problem. We need to understand, and maybe that is not enough, but we need to be able question everything to truly understand. Of course, when you ask questions regarding people's most dearly held beliefs you encounter extreme reactions, and thus what is most honest and open will always be the most offensive.

"Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" will be offensive. I need to take listeners deep into the crevasses of their minds to the heart of the darkest episodes in their lives. We don't visit them often since they make us very uncomfortable, but the decisions we make in those trying times affect us for the rest of our lives. The CD will depict the journey of a man as he descends into the greatest horrors this world can produce, and surprisingly to which we can all relate, and view those moments through the perspective that I have described in the Fireaxe CDs and this newsletter. My goal is to describe the events as realistically as I can so that we can all see and feel what the main character is going through. We all want heroes, and we are willing to pervert the laws of nature and create unbelievable characters to support our dreams of victory. But these are lies, and as such they cannot move us as deeply as the truth. Once again I intend to make you think and think deeply, not to stroke your ego and whisper sweet nothings in your ears, and so reality, in all its gory glory, will be summoned up and exposed.

How to order Fireaxe CDs

Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which contains the following:

  • 1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
  • 2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
  • 3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

Here is a price list. The first number is the cost for U.S. based customers, the second is for outside the U.S. The prices include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods: $12 / $14
Victory or Death: $5 / $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares: $5 / $7
A Dream of Death: $5 / $7

Send everything to:

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

If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in exchange for the review. In this case all I need is a request by e-mail. Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your magazine with the review in it when it is done. 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 CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a letter about the project, and some information about the CD which can also be found on the Fireaxe site.

Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project. The tiff disk is free so just say the word.

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 food for the gods.
  • 6. 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?
  • 7. 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.
  • 8. You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world. Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
  • 9. 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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