Release Date: May 15, 2012
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Comedy Rock
The first full-length album in six years from Jack Black and Kyle Gass' comedy-cock-rock duo is chock-full of swaggering pomposity. But too many of its gags sound like they've been festering since the Pick of Destiny days; perhaps all the dick jokes here are meant to distract you from the mold growing on some of the other gags. "Rock Is Dead" is a rollicking caricature of dudes who won’t stop lionizing the past, but the gloppy stagehand rant "Roadie," the noxious ode to a middle-aged woman "39" and the barely parodic "Throw Down" are so bombastic you wonder if Black and Gass have finally turned into the overblown wanksters they parody.
“If Tenacious D has died, what will we do? / And what will we do / About all the fans that have the D tattoo?” Act I: And Satan Said, “The D Shall Rock” Once upon a time, at the height of their collective majesty, Tenacious D were indeed the Greatest Band in the World—a fact of which the duo (Jack “JG/Jables” Black and Kyle “KG/Kage” Gass) constantly reminded us on their short-lived (and utterly brilliant) HBO series. Two portly fellows strapped to acoustic guitars, singing in gorgeous harmony over wicked, wild riffs that put the “cock” in cock-rock, their literal audiences may have been a few drunken open mic night drifters—but in their heads, they were Rock Gods: spewing their decadent glory upon enraptured millions from world’s biggest stages, indulging in backstage groupie sex that made Led Zep look like a gaggle of school girls. That underdog spirit, that charming disconnect between dream and reality—it’s what made Tenacious D so damn funny.
It's no mystery why Tenacious D call their third album Rize of the Fenix. JB and KG suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune when they unleashed The Pick of Destiny in 2006, a feature film -- complete with an accompanying soundtrack -- that netted approximately no new fans and may even have cost them a few. Well aware of this bomb, it's imperative that the D fashion their third album -- arriving a long six years after Pick -- as a triumphant comeback, a Fenix rising from the ashes, if you will.
Comedy rockers return with long-overdue third album... Tenacious D are back and, by now, you know the drill. Packed with the hard rockin’, comically obscene cock-folk jams with which they’ve made their name, Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ new masterwork is more of the same, essentially, and whether regaling us with an ode to a middle-aged prostitute or outlining their plans for solar domination, they’re on fine form.
Has the D turned into Kansas? That’s what it sounds like after a couple of spins of their eponymous opener, Rize of the Fenix. It’s got stops and starts, heavy riffs and all the virtuoso playing that made those corporate prog heroes famous. But don’t worry, on the follow up Kyle and JB are as pathetic and sexist (what’s wrong with being sexy?) as ever on Low Hangin’ Fruit, which describes the kind of chick they are after.
Since their TV debut on Mr. Show in the late 90s, Tenacious D have operated on the same basic premise: two schlubby guys with acoustic guitars truly believing they're rock gods. Jack Black and Kyle Gass got a lot of mileage out of that until Black became a big-ticket actor and the band started selling out arenas; that is, they became legitimate rock stars.
The Post-it on the refrigerator in Tenacious D’’s Hollywood apartment probably reads something like this: 1. Polish the B.o.G. (Bong of Destiny). 2. Play a round of lampshade golf w/Sasquatch3. Cash Satan’s rent check4. Lay roses on Val Kilmer’s grave5. Rise again as the world’s most ….
Comedy rock duo Tenacious D has always succeeded as a result of self-perpetuated myths. On “Tribute”, from their self-titled debut in 2001, Jack Black and Kyle Gass chronicled the time they “just so happened” to play “the Best Song in the World” in order to prevent a demon from eating their souls. Follow-up The Pick of Destiny (2006) was the soundtrack to their feature-length film/origin story of the same name.
This review originally ran in AP 287. In the works since 2008, Rize Of The Fenix kicks off on a remarkably dated note, with Tenacious D frontman Jack Black intoning, “When The Pick Of Destiny was released, it was a bomb/And all the critics said that the D was done.” True, the duo’s feature-film debut tanked at the box office, but that was six years ago. In that time, the D’s core fanbase graduated from college and quit smoking weed.