The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 9.4

June 2, 2006

"But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works.
The President makes decisions. He's the decider. The press
secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the
press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type.
Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to
know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that
novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the
one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage
to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!"
- Stephen Colbert, addressing the reporters
at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

"Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (peace be upon Him),
the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human
rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce
one's opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and
[other] weapons of mass destruction [WMD], make "War [on]
Terror" his slogan, and, finally, work toward the establishment
of a unified international community -- a community which
Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, but,
at the same time, have countries attacked; have the lives,
reputations, and possessions of people destroyed; and on the
slight chance [that there are] criminals in a village, city, or
convoy, for example, set ablaze the entire village, city, or
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic
Republic of Iran in a letter to George Bush

Courage, moxie, chutzpah, brass balls, call it what you will but an impressive amount of truth to power was spoken, and written, recently and although I might be a bit premature in writing this it seems that my generation is, at last, finding its voice. If this is a taste of the future then I am definitely looking forward to it as well as doing my best to be a part of it.

It is difficult for me to resist the temptation to use gross generalizations when it comes to lumping all of the different people of an entire generation together. I'd surely love to paint with a wide brush and describe the Baby Boomer generation as a legion of self- absorbed, unethical, pleasure seeking, stubborn ideologues who have long since forgotten how to listen. I'd love to do that because of the ugly labels that have been placed on my generation. I am part of Generation X, otherwise known as a bunch of spoiled, apathetic, underachieving, slackers who care so little about their world and their future that they don't even bother to vote. And unlike politics, I don't have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines. I'm Generation X whether I like it or not and so I sometimes feel the need to refute my generation's bad reputation. (Honestly, slackers? Are you serious? Would the internet even exist without Generation X? We didn't just talk about a revolution, we built one.)

Perhaps what I liked the most about both of the examples of speaking truth to power that I quoted above is their apolitical nature. Stephen Colbert delivered his pointed criticisms using his "Colbert Report" character, an ideal vehicle for lampooning the self-righteous elitism so common among our nation's pundits and leaders. And although many of his comments were directed at Bush, there is no doubt that he was down-dressing just about everyone in attendance, left, right, and center. As a number of pro-republican critics have charged, Stephen's jokes were mean spirited, and I agree completely. That was the point. Stephen showed no fear of the president as he metaphorically stuck his fist in his face. And because he spread the sharp criticisms around in all directions, eliciting mainly nervous laughs from an apparently stunned audience I viewed it as being not about a political conflict, that is, left versus right, but about a generational conflict, that is, Generation X versus the Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers are well represented among the leaders of our nations, both political and corporate, and some of the people in my generation are wondering what happened to all that "change the world" idealism of the sixties? Did the Boomers sell out or was it all just about their own self interest from the beginning?

A lot has been written about how young people are turning off the network and cable news and tuning into comedy/news programs like "The Colbert Report", "The Daily Show", and the internet phenomenon "The Onion" to get their news, or at least to enjoy a good laugh at our leaders' expenses. I think that this is the epicenter of the generational conflict, if there indeed is one. Baby Boomers tend to fondly remember their involvement in political issues when they were young and disparage my generation for not getting involved in today's important issues. Perhaps many Boomers out there look at how much we younger people enjoy news parodies and want to retort, "So is that what you think? That politics is just all a big joke?" Now I can't speak for all Generation Xers, but I think that I speak for more than just myself when I state that the answer is an emphatic "YES!".

To understand why I think that you need to understand a little more about Generation X. Sure, Pauly Shore is Gen X, but so is Lance Armstrong, and I think the defining characteristics of Gen X lean more towards the cyclist: we tend to have a highly competitive nature and a fierce independent streak. We are driven to succeed, but what's more is that we want to succeed in our own unique way and tend to shun any assistance. Because of these traits, we don't share a lot in common with each other, especially ideology, which is a good reason why we don't do mass protests. A true Generation X protest would involve millions of people holding up contradictory signs and chanting different slogans. But I think that one thing my generation shares is that we strongly desire the world to be a true meritocracy. If we work hard we want our rewards and if we slack we don't expect to get a handout. We want to reap exactly what we sow and we expect the system to treat everyone the same way. Perhaps this is the influence of video games, where everyone starts out equal, the computer passes down pure and impartial judgments, and your successes and failures all depend on your skills, motivation, and work ethic. I think that Generation X has little or no problem with equality for anyone for any reason. In our world, everyone is allowed up to the starting line, but after that you're on your own. May the best player win, and no excuses if you don't.

I think that in this way my generation has followed much of the idealism of the Baby Boomers, embracing concepts of individuality and equality and discarding the moral absolutes of past generations. But in stark contrast to the fair and impartial computers which arbitrate video game heroics, the real world, now dominated by Baby Boomers, is far from even handed, and I think that the idealism that Generation Xers had when they got out of school was dealt a serious blow when they graduated and saw how things really worked. Cronyism, nepotism, corruption, idealism trumping the rule of law, and bald-face lies were our introduction to politics. I grew up under Reagan, who ushered in what could be called the "Age of Unaccountability" with the Iran- Contra scandal, the borrowing of trillions to pay for tax cuts for the rich (which would be passed down to their children - my generation), and the declaration that ketchup was a vegetable. Yet nothing seemed to stick to the Teflon president who appeared able to get away with anything. For those who came after Reagan, Nixon's mantra was repeated over and over: "wage war, borrow money, and never admit to any wrongdoing" and congress, far from snapping the country out of the trance, joined in the chorus instead. It didn't matter who was in charge, the policies stayed the same and things only got worse as the idealistic Baby Boomers took charge. Today every issue is as fiercely fought as the abortion issue was when my generation was growing up. In other words there is no debate, there are just two sides talking at each other and sounding like they are on different planets. As it stands today Washington D.C. has descended into an all or nothing turf war where the tyranny of the majority is the operating principle rather that a scourge to be avoided. Our leaders have become almost completely incapable of passing any meaningful legislation that doesn't involve giving tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars to select special interest groups that finance political campaigns. And we've seen how they respond to serious crises.

And here stands Generation X, seemingly indifferent to it all. We act like it isn't important. We are, for the most part, uninvolved. But why? Why now when everything matters so much!? I think the reason is that this is the defining condition for many Generation Xers, that of life under dysfunctional leadership, especially those of us with divorced, separated or feuding parents, which constitutes a great many of those in my age group. Even those of my generation who grew up in stable families were exposed to the many massive cultural rifts during their childhood and knew that their elders were at war with each other. I recall watching the battle of the sexes, the battle for civil rights, and the continuous culture wars surrounding sex, religion, and morality on television every night. We grew up in a world where the powers that be were constantly at each others throats, where those powers cared more about themselves than the people whom they were supposed to serve, and where those powers often treated us like political footballs and implored us to settle their stalemates. To our disappointment, that world is still with us today with many of the conflicts still raging on and growing worse, so many of us respond in the way that we learned when we were young, we become disengaged. But we didn't drop out of the world, we struck a deal with it, in essence saying: we'll leave you alone if you leave us alone; we'll take responsibility for our actions and you can take responsibility for yours; and we'll do our jobs and work hard if you do your jobs and work hard too. Our philosophy lies somewhere between libertarianism and anarchism.

Now, I'm not saying that my generation is superior to any others. I think that there are a lot of problems with the "Generation X" philosophy with a major one being that our choice of a standard by which to judge success or failure is often too materialistic. Certainly how rich you are is an objective measure of value and frees you from the baggage of moralistic systems that define worth, but it puts too much faith in free market dynamics and undermines any notion of things being both superior and lacking mass appeal. However, my point is to try to describe current events from a generational perspective so that they may be better understood.

If I haven't made too many assumptions, I think that it is clear to see why Generation X wants to stay uninvolved. We want to be free to be who we are and do our thing, not be who our elders want us to be, and definitely not have to solve their problems for them. I also think that it is clear that the frustration, sarcasm, and rebukes recently coming from Generation Xers directed at those in power is because the Baby Boomers are not living up to their part of the Gen X bargain. The two examples that I quoted at the top are stinging rebuttals that reveal the stubborn, self serving, and hypocritical nature of those in charge. I'd like to see more such criticisms, many more, as many as it takes to get our leaders to realize that their duty is to We The People.

Where Colbert is like the court jester, Ahmadinejad is like a disappointed mentor, chastising George W. Bush for acting in so many un-Christ-like ways (Who Would Jesus Torture?). Here is a man who stands at risk of having his country destroyed by war and having a nuclear "bunker buster" weapon dropped on his head and yet he calmly states his case, pointing out a number of things he sees as contradictions in Bush's beliefs and his practices, and asking for explanations. Now, I personally think that Ahmadinejad is misguided on a number of issues and I have no desire to live under his rule, but yeah, I'd like to hear Bush answer his questions. I'd love to see my president pick up a pen and write a twelve page letter back. I mean, whatever happened to granting a condemned man his last request?

Many Christians scoff at the advice of their savior. Honestly, all that talk about turning the other cheek, not resisting one who is evil, and loving your enemy, those are just good intentions, right? They're just Sunday School lessons that have no place in the real world. In the real world you have to respond to evil with deadly force and an iron fist. Just read the Old Testament, it's all about smiting the wicked. A real Christian understands that sometimes evil must be done for the greater good, right? I think that Christians who think that way should read up on how the early Christians conquered Rome, perhaps the greatest empire in history. I'll give them a hint, it wasn't with swords. Even in secular terms great power and influence flow from the ideas of practicing restraint and committing one's self completely to lofty ideals. Take the ideals that the U.S. was founded upon, notions of liberty, human rights, and self determination. These things are well worth fighting and sacrificing for and they are envied by those who lack them. And the idea that we would stick to those ideals, even when fighting enemies who don't follow our rules, even when it may make it easier to achieve our goals, and even when it means that more of us will suffer and die, makes those ideals even more powerful, more envied, and more worth fighting for. By sticking to our ideals we show the entire world our strength of character, our courage to defend everyone's rights, including those who wish to do us harm, and that we are willing to risk our lives for our freedoms. It says simply, "Give me liberty or give me death!", and those who would sacrifice that liberty in exchange for a little security are, and there is no better word to describe them, cowards.

I don't see the future as being very bright. I see economic collapse, a large scale war, and a lot of misery in the near future. But I do think that Generation X will not only rise to meet these challenges but that we are well suited to deal with them. Although our tendencies to remain detached and to do our own thing make us seem selfish, I've seen a strong selfless streak in those of my generation. We're very goal oriented and we are used to making sacrifices to achieve our ends even if that goal has nothing to do with money, power, or prestige. After all, a lot of the software, content, and power built in to the internet was added with little or no expectations of an immediate reward. It is a pyramid that we've all added a brick to and so what if the shape doesn't follow any blueprint. It's better the way that it is. So fear not the future fellow Xers, we can rebuild our nations when they fall. We may not be the greatest generation, or the most exciting generation, or the most talked about or anticipated generation, but I have little doubt that when it comes to be our turn to show the world who we are, that we will leave behind a legacy for the ages.

I urge you to view Colbert's full performance

And read the full text of Ahmadinejad's letter

Speaking of a legacy for the ages, the new Fireaxe CD… okay, that segue is a little too self-aggrandizing, let me try again…

Speaking of showing the world who I am, the new Fireaxe CD, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is moving steadily towards completion with nearly fifty minutes of rough tracks now recorded. Additionally, my health continues its steady improvement thanks to assistance from many sources to each of which I am very grateful. I've surpassed the level of health that, during the darkest days of my suffering with cancer and chronic fatigue, I didn't think that I'd ever achieve again. Now I've set my sights a little higher. I expect to be back to full health, or at least as healthy as someone can be with one kidney.

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

More progress on the new Fireaxe CD

In light of the recent high-profile political scandals, when you get to listen to "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" you may think that I had things like the Jefferson, Abramoff, and Watergate hooker scandals in mind when I wrote the following lyrics:

"The rule of law stood between us and higher profits, that had to change."

To be honest, the methods that I describe in the CD involving the corruption of the political power structure were written last year, well before today's scandals. So was it a lucky guess? Ha ha ha.

I don't want to reveal much of the plot of the new CD, but it makes a substantial foray into the seamy world of cutthroat capitalism. Octavio Ramos and I worked hard on lyrics for a song that, while resembling gansta rap in brutality and tone, is written in the language of the boardroom. I really like how it turned out and it's surprising how well the two different worlds blend together. Just replace "nines" and "hoes" with "profits" and "hostile takeovers" in any rap song and you get the general idea. Of course, the music is all metal, fast and aggressive, and uses melody and harmony to a degree far beyond the realm of anything hip-hop. Rest assured that the song is 100% Fireaxe.

Another corporate oriented track, where the quote above comes from, took shape just last month and I think that it is one of the best "short" tracks that I've ever written. It's set to ¾ time, which I rarely use but tend to produce great songs when I do, such as Beyond Zimbabwe and DeathMachine. I'm not sure why but when I get into the ¾ time signature I tend to gravitate towards a strong waltz groove. Call it the "Blue Danube" syndrome if you will, but it doesn't seem to be contagious. I've listened to songs on the radio that were in ¾ time and I barely noticed that they were doing anything out of the ordinary at all. To me that kind of squanders the uniqueness of the beat. In my opinion you should notice that the song is breaking from the standard 4/4 rock tradition, otherwise why bother?

In any event, the new song, tentatively titled "The Evil Men Do", just rolls right over you with the time signature being responsible for the rolling. It drags you along as things get darker and darker and darker still. For some reason the song just doesn't want to end and I had a difficult time figuring a way out of the rhythm. But inspiration struck and a cool finish emerged.

In other good news it appears that I am on track to finish the CD by the end of the year. I'm not going to rush anything, but so far the pace that I've been going at has given me plenty of time to focus on the rough recordings and elevate the parts that started off not so strong to being rich, full, and lively. Trust that you will get another powerful Fireaxe work when all is said and done. And as long as I stay healthy I will continue to produce to the best of my ability singing epic tales of mankind's folly.

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

Back to the Burning Blade Index