The ‘Fenix’ Rises for the D
Six years ago, the acoustic metal duo Tenacious D cranked out “The Pick of Destiny,” which was both a cult album and film of the same name. However, the lack of commercial success from “POD” led to speculation whether the duo would return again. Thankfully enough, Jack Black and Kyle Gass have returned to close the D on a high note, and their newest and supposedly final album titled “Rize of the Fenix” serves as a solid testament to their highly devoted fans.
The album begins with “Rize of the Fenix,” which combines self-awareness from the aftermath of “POD” along with the classic rock instrumental vibe that is utilized in just about every track that the duo has created. Overall, it comes off as a trio hybrid of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Queen combined. With the aesthetics of those three bands put together into this song, it sets forth a nostalgic trip down memory lane for how creative and energetic the D had been since their inception.
Following “Rize of the Fenix” are several tracks that showcase their infamous vulgar absurdist comedy chops in the lyrics. These are especially evident in “39” and “Low Hangin’ Fruit,” where the subjects are quite self-explanatory upon the first 30 seconds of runtime.
In comparison to the band’s last album, “Rize of the Fenix” contains further innovation in the D’s musical style that sets them apart from most bands of today. Instead of heavily relying on their famous classical rock riffs, they step outside their comfort zone with new styles.
“To Be the Best” serves as a genius parody of inspirational songs of the ’80s, and “Señorita” plays out as an energetic tribute to the musical style of the Mexican mariachi.
However, their attempts to broaden their style hit a rut in the short skits they throw into the middle of the album. It’s evident that they’re scripted, but the humor execution feels stale in that they try too hard for the slightest bit of a chuckle. Their sense of humor always works in the form of a song, but as a skit it doesn’t even come close to producing that same effect.
On the other hand, the greatest part about Tenacious D’s musical style is the rock opera element often featured in Jack Black’s lyrics. Black plays out each song as if it’s a story, no matter how outlandish its circumstances may be, but it gives off an exquisite emotional vibe because of the constant energy Black has while performing.
Carrying off of the aforementioned rock opera aesthetic, this transitions to my absolute favorite song from the album, titled “The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and Rage Kage.” The song is a rock opera of the “fictional” distancing relationship that grew between Black and Gass after the low commercial success of “POD.” What makes this the best track is how passionate Black’s vocals are in accordance to the lyrics, and the lyrics themselves beautifully convey the longtime bromance that Black and Gass have had with each other since forming the band back in 1994.
If it weren’t for the weak skits thrown in between the first and second third of the album, “Rize of the Fenix” would take the reign as my favorite Tenacious D album. It combines everything the most diehard D fans would want from this cult duo, and that being the classical rock musical style, vulgar humor and rock opera-esque lyrics.
Without a doubt my favorite rock opera album since Green Day’s “American Idiot,” “Rize of the Fenix” is a profoundly energetic and entertaining conclusion to rock’s greatest acoustic metal duo.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5