The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 9.3

April 7, 2006

"Mr. Griffin, 28, who spent two years with the SAS,
said the American military's "gung-ho and trigger happy
mentality" and tactics had completely undermined any
chance of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi
population. He added that many innocent civilians were
arrested in night-time raids and interrogated by American
soldiers, imprisoned in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison,
or handed over to the Iraqi authorities and "most probably"
- The Telegraph (U.K.) reporting on the
first member of the British special forces
unit SAS to quit for moral reasons

You know things are going bad when elite special forces members resign in disgust. After all, aren't these the guys who are trained to do whatever it takes regardless of the tactics they have to use? True, it's important to have soldiers who can do the dirty work that is often required of them during war, but it's also important to have soldiers who can recognize when their tactics are defeating their own purpose. One wishes that such wisdom would work its way up the chain of command to where it could inspire a coherent postwar plan.

A phrase that gets tossed about quite a lot these days is "winning the hearts and minds", which is also known by the name "indoctrination". If the more accurate term was used to describe the current efforts to foist a regime change on a given country then it would be more obvious why there is resistance and insurgency. But many people would rather cling to a fairy tale image of the mighty white knight (Bush) charging in to slay the fire breathing dragon (Hussein) and everyone lives happily ever after. The reality is far different.

If we assume that systems of government lie along a continuum which follows the course of history, and that is a generous assumption, what the U.S. is trying to do in Iraq is rush the Iraqi people through over three hundred years of political and social advancement, in essence going from feudalism to modern democracy while skipping every stage in between. That in itself is a tall order, but the U.S. made it even more difficult by banning the former ruling party, removing its leadership, and firing all the Iraqi soldiers, in essence setting them back even farther before trying to move them forward. Thus, the U.S. message to Iraq is that they should forget everything that they know about government and embrace an almost completely foreign way of doing things, which is pretty much the definition of brainwashing, but since we lack the manpower to properly control the country and since our motives are made suspect by the theft of billions of Iraq's dollars it's no surprise that we are failing in our efforts. To make matters worse we're sending the Iraqis conflicting signals. We tell them that they are to govern themselves, but we insist on controlling the most important facets of their country, and when they do things that we don't like, we step in and put a stop to it fast. And if that wasn't enough, now we're publicly humiliating the Iraqis by blaming them for a lot of the problems in their country.

It's painful to watch, and it reminds me of how domineering parents treat their children. The parents are well meaning of course, but they are determined to have their reluctant children learn some very important lesson regardless of their children's desires. Perhaps you've seen something like this, where the parent is desperately trying to focus the child's attention on something, explaining over and over what the child needs to do, and either doing it for them or actually grabbing the child's hand and forcing it through the motions while the child goes limp and gets dragged along. It's easy for me to visualize the U.S. doing the same thing: grabbing Iraq by the hand and saying, "Come along, we're going to Baghdad to overthrow your leader now. Why? Because he's a bad man. What? Yes, I know I used to support him, just…Why? Because I said so, that's why. So come along, now. Oh, you're not going to come along, well then we'll just do it for you Bang. See he's gone. Isn't the world a better place now? You're free! Hooray! Now comes the fun part, you get to elect a new leader. Yes, you have to do it.** Come on now, everyone vote. Now show me your purple fingers. Yay! Don't you feel good? Well, not all of you voted and that means that the ones who didn't don't get any candy. Too bad. Oh, you're going to throw a fit? Well, we're going to have to teach you a lesson."

Needless to say the strategy isn't working, so lately we've resorted to two other trademarks of poor parenting: bribing our children to make them behave, and inflicting excessive cruelty on those who still won't. Is this nation building or child abuse? But I think that we are doomed in our efforts and it seems very clear why. Although we may actually give the Iraqis a democracy some day, they will not have earned it, and thus they will not appreciate it nor value it as much as if they had. Why should they really care if another dictator rises to power? Won't the U.S. come and bail them out again? And why should they work hard to rebuild their country when they can sit at home and let us do it for them? All we are doing is filling their hearts and minds with apathy and hatred. We need to give them more control over their fate. A lot more. It's that simple. Maybe we won't like their choices but the alternative is worse. Think about this, if you were an Iraqi, what would make you more proud, to submit to a government created, manipulated, and abused by a foreign power, or to make that foreign power suffer a humiliating retreat from your shores. As our efforts are undermined by our growing record of abuses, both physical and financial, more and more Iraqis will be choosing the latter option.

Regarding Iran, something which I discussed at length in the last Burning Blade, I can only say: my how things have changed. In just two short months the bombing of Iran has gone from seemingly inevitable to all but off the table. Someone blew up a mosque of great religious significance in Iraq and support for both the Iraq war and President Bush have fallen to new lows. It seems unlikely that voters will support any expansion of military action in the region. Also, the Iranian oil bourse never did open, and word has it that it will be delayed and have much less ambitious goals if and when trading does begin. Additionally, in Israel's last election they moved dramatically to the center and they probably won't be doing anything drastic until they get their new government sorted out. And finally, Russia and China look like they are going to veto any vote for Iranian sanctions. All tolled it appears that Iran has dodged a number of bullets, for now at least, but then again, things can change.

Regarding Fireaxe, in spite of having to crank out two newsletters and being away from my studio for a week I've been able to lay down over thirty minutes of very rough tracks for the new CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess". Although the tracks are too rough for me to want to share them publicly, I can assure you that they are every bit as dark and as exhilarating as I felt they would be when I wrote them. This may be the best Fireaxe CD of them all.

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

** Actually, the U.S. first wanted to appoint a governing council for Iraq rather than let the Iraqis vote on who their leaders were. The U.S. had to abandon those plans after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani insisted on direct elections. But to hear the administration speak of it today, you’d think that direct elections were what they wanted all along.

Three tracks fleshed out for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess"

As I've mentioned before, I'm trying a different approach to writing and recording the latest CD than what I've done in the past. For "A Dream of Death" and "Food for the Gods" I only had a general framework laid out before I started recording. For those projects I went song by song, writing out the lyrics and then recording the music twice, once to get a rough idea of what the song would sound like once to play it through with no mistakes, or at least no major ones. But I'd completely record each song before starting on the next one.

This time around I decided to do a "full sweep" of the whole CD for each stage of the process. By that I mean writing the complete lyrics for every song on the CD before recording a note, and doing a rough recording for every song on the CD before recording the final, mistake-free version. I saw some advantages in doing it this way over the old way, the most important of which is that I'm free to make changes to any parts of the CD at just about any point during the recording process. If I have a new idea for a song near the end of the CD which impacts a song near the beginning it's not a problem to change things because nothing has been set in digital stone yet. Also, if I find that I'm running long, or not long enough, I can made additions or subtractions anywhere rather than just at the end. This has already paid off at least twice.

Another advantage is that any improvements I make in the way that I record things will be applied to all of the tracks, not just to the ones after the one where I discovered a better way to do things. In case you were wondering, that is the reason why the third "Food for the Gods" CD sounds somewhat better than the first one. Also, after fighting cancer and a number of low grade infections I need to get my voice back in shape again. By recording the final cuts of the vocal tracks at the end stages of the process I can give my voice more time to get stronger and richer. So ideally, the new approach to recording will give me a much better and more consistent sound.

But don't fret that the vocals may not be as good as before. Whether it is just the natural process of working hard at something for so many years, a dividend of me taking a couple of years off from singing, or a fringe benefit of the treatment program that I'm on, my voice is now stronger than ever, a lot stronger. I'm really pleased with what I can do now vocally and I'm eager to show off my improvements. And since I've added a new microphone and vocal preamp to my studio I think that I might end up turning my vocal "liability" into an asset.

In any event, it looks like I am on a schedule to release the CD at the end of the year. Now, if you'll excuse the short newsletter, I've got to get back to the studio.

The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

  • 1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the interactions of simple things
  • 2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete, with the "losers" becoming extinct
  • 3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function according to the rules of conditioning
  • 4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases, which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

  • 1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
  • 2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
  • 3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological interactions of conscious humans
  • 4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much the same way that organisms do
  • 5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

  • 1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
  • 2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
  • 3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an ideology's survival
  • 4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
  • 5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person is motivated - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

  • 1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including, but not limited to, war and enslavement
  • 2. That aggression is a survival advantage
  • 3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive, thus creating a vicious circle
  • 4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy their needs
  • 5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

  • 1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply that continuous growth is not sustainable
  • 2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
  • 3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by destroying it

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 (SOLD OUT)
A Dream of Death: $3 / $5 (booklet out of print)

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

For the rest of this year and part of the next I will be recording the next Fireaxe CD entitled "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess". I'd like to have it complete by the end of 2006. The new CD will dig deep 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.

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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