Review by Ellen Eldridge
Just as the cover sticker label warns, Tenacious D’s Rize of the Fenix is most certainly not for children, nor religious people, but it is meant for people with a juvenile sense of humor. I’ll qualify my opinions by admitting that I fell in love with the D while watching “Mr. Show” on HBO late in the ‘90s–when I was in high school making the typical bad decisions that high school kids make when hanging out with friends. That being said, I honestly believe Rize of the Fenix is difficult to assess from my current perspective, and therefore pales in comparison to the range of emotions I experience on songs like “Jesus Ranch” and “Tribute.”
Tenacious D combines the formula for radio-friendly popular songs in the songs’ composition, but the lyrics lose censors’ favor with the themes extend well past those of independent musicians trying to make it in the industry; Tenacious D dives deeply into the depths of depraved toilet humor. BUT, that doesn’t mean these songs aren’t great – fans just need to be closer to 14 than 22 or older to appreciate tracks like “Low Hangin’ Fruit” and “Deth Starr.”
Rife with as many expletives as dynamic and expressive melodies, Jack Black and Kyle Gass team up with Dave Grohl for an album full of easy-to-play chord progressions mixing a rather amazing voice with a guitarist who can get down when not simply accompanying the singer; hearing Grohl pound the hell out of a drum kit again fits Tenacious D well, and the band makes songs like “Throwdown” stand out as much more exciting and passionate than what the superficial and repetitive lyrics would imply were they read without hearing the song.
Track 11, “They F****d Our A***s,” starts with such an elegant arpeggio and quiet ballady vocals that, were the listener not paying close attention, this one-minute-eight-second song would slide right through the heavier-vocaled, one-minute “To Be the Best” and into the album closer “39,” which sounds like it was written on a beach while an overage, overweight man set his sight on finding just the right woman, for sale. Truthfully, many of the song themes show a mischievous humor that fans will love set to Black’s wide vocal range, but the fact that so much of the humor targets a younger crowd than I means I will probably keep my distance and enjoy the songs nostalgically.
Tenacious D plays the Tabernacle on June 25.