Review // Fire-Toolz – Eternal Home
Review // Fire-Toolz – Eternal Home

Review // Fire-Toolz – Eternal Home

Fire Toolz Eternal Home

Words: Big Voyage

There’s this comic from the 90s, “Madman”, by Mike Allred. “Madman” followed Frank Einstein, a John Doe brought back from the dead by super-scientist Dr. Boiffard. With it’s bright Golden Age pallete, clean linework, and stylized dialogue “Madman” stood out among its self-consciously gritty contemporaries for its unguarded innocence, which made the occasional brutality sting.

Madman Comic 2

“Madman” was always in complete earnest— when Frank fights a skinless muscleman backstage at the circus his thought bubbles crowd the mayhem off the page with an anguished meditation on the morality of violence. In complete defiance of the norms of the age (think “Sandman”, “Preacher”, “The Dark Knight Returns”) “Madman” strove for depth without irony or gloom, and was entirely disarming for it. Frank fought his share of evil but his core pursuit was spiritual enlightenment… when he rescues an alien maimed and held captive in a jungle shrine, he is burning to know if the ET believes in God. All this relates to Fire-Toolz “Eternal Home”, I don’t know how to explain exactly but listen to the album and tell me I’m wrong.

I’ll try again: a major plotline in “Madman” concerned Dr. Boiffard’s addiction to an intelligence enhancer, an injection self-administered to the tongue.  Over the months Dr. Boiffard’s genius grows, but he eventually OD’s, loaded in an ambulance with his big brain spilling out of his skull.

Madman Comic 1

He’s become too smart to communicate with ordinary humans, he lays in his bed babbling formulas and equations too complex for anyone else to follow, stitching the whole universe together in numbers but unable to connect on any level with the visitors worrying at his bedside.  This paragraph could very easily be about Fire-Toolz, but I don’t think it really is, especially not “Eternal Home”.  This wasn’t Dr. Boiffard’s ultimate fate either for that matter, but we’ll come back to that.

In an early issue of “Madman” Frank Einstein is exploring a wrecked UFO when he’s caught in a terrifying trap, assailed and constrained by tentacles and such, stuffed inside a man-sized test tube and gassed.  When he wakes up, he’s sitting across from a genial alien named Mott who explains, hey sorry, I had to sanitize you ASAP cause of viruses, anyhow would you like to be friends?  There are many moments like this on “Eternal Home”.

Here’s a bludgeoning blast beat with blood curdling screams, but now here’s this lush synth pad floating over it all like someone gently shaking you awake from a nightmare.  Maybe I’m on the wrong track, implying that the pad and the blastbeat are in opposition, maybe what we’re meant to take away is “yes, this is true, but this is true as well”, no light without dark, no life without death, it’s all one, etc…

Madman Comic 3

I guess what I’m trying to say with this “Mott” bit is where you often feel like heavy music is trying to brutalize you and leave you in awe of its power, Angel’s music feels like she is putting you through something in order for you to make it through to the other side.  You don’t feel like she’s brutalizing you, you feel like she’s trying to guide you through something brutal.

Did I mention one of Frank Einstein’s main superpowers is just “empathy”? Do you remember the scene in Midsommar where all the cult women are gathered around the crying girl and they’re empathizing so hard they’re breathing and sobbing in sync? I don’t know how to explain how I’m getting “empathy” from “Eternal Home” exactly, but this is the sort of empathy I’m talking about. You can hear it, somehow.

So, back to Dr. Boiffard.  Frank goes through some Trauma (in the process discovering God is a musical note), and decides to seek out Dr. Boiffard, who has disappeared from the hospital.  The events that follow are too bonkers to summarize (at one point Frank is riding a giant brain across the open sea like “James and the Giant Peach”).

Suffice to say, Dr. Boiffard does not end up gibbering and isolated in a hotel bed the rest of his days, he becomes so intelligent that he punches through to the other side, to the spiritual plane.  Floating before a mystical doorway, he materializes on the physical plane as an enormous brain to tell Frank “Don’t try to understand it all. Use the fact that something this wondrous can exist”.

I think Angel is probably a genius, and not in the casual sense of the term.  I think she can probably make music do whatever she wants it to, make any sound she wants.  She could retreat into conversation with herself and we’d still be dazzled over the technicality, but instead here she is, floating before us with a message from the universe.

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