By at 2:39 PM Thursday, May 3rd 2012


Tenacious D Fail to Take Flight with ‘Rize Of The Fenix’

Tenacious D, Reviews


When listening to Tenacious D’s third full length studio album Rize Of The Fenix, it’s hard not to think back to the duo’s stellar 2001 self-titled debut. In paying tribute to Ronnie James Dio years before the beloved metal vocalist lost his battle with cancer, Jack Black and Kyle Gass lovingly joked that at that very moment it was time for the former Black Sabbath vocalist to pass the torch. A decade later, one must wonder if the D were truly worthy of that torch to begin with as their third full length record manages to disappoint harder than the 2006 box office disaster The Pick Of Destiny.

Upon first listen of Rize Of The Fenix there are plenty of cheap laughs to be had. Out the gate, the duo addresses the poorly received Pick Of Destiny with a grandiose opening that shares the same name as the album. Much like a hip hop artist announcing their return to the game, Black belts out a reflective yet confident warning shot that they are in no way messing around.

“When the Pick of Destiny was released, it was a bomb and all the critics said that the D was done. The sun had set and the chapter had closed, but one thing no one thought about was the D would rise again. Just like the Fenix, we’ll fucking Rize again…”

Unfortunately, for the most hardcore of D-ciples, the truly stellar moments on the album are few and far between. The title track is no doubt one the album’s finest. Roadie is another one of the few bright moments for all the wrong reasons. An average song with lyrical content we have all heard before in regard to groupies pleasing roadies in order to get access to the band, it is clear this ode to the hard worker is meant for the live setting. With Black abusing former Saxaboom technician Joe Beebe for years, the possibilities for this song on stage are endless.

Another bright moment is The Ballad Of Hollywood Jack And The Rage Cage. An emotionally charged song that tackles the class divide between Black and Gass, it’s next to impossible not to feel your heart strings being tugged upon as Black sings:

“So Hollywood Jack lived up high on a hill in a bubble and Rage Cage lived deep in the broiling valley below.”

Easily the most emotional material the D has penned since Fuck Her Gently, it is a shame the band couldn’t write more songs of this caliber. The Ballad manages to be funny, awkward and most importantly sincere; ingredients that the rest of the album severely lacks.

The trouble begins with the album’s second song, Low Hanging Fruit. Have no doubt on a musical level that this song will rock your freaking socks off. Yet sadly, lyrically, it will break the hearts of long time D fans. JB and KG have always worked because of their bravado and indulgence. So to hear these two claim they don’t want “high class models in designer fucking bathing suits” is not only shocking, it is the first massive attack upon the glorious and exhausted pillar that the D know they reside upon.

Things only get worse as the albums progress. During the first skit Classical Teacher, Black’s alter ego Felix Char sounds too much like another box office bomb Nacho Libre. It is one thing for the duo to discuss leaving Arcade Fire “in the dust” but by the time the skit segues into Señorita, it is clear the D is light years behind the Grammy Award winning Canadians. Señorita not only sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers attempting to cover Ween’s Buenos Tardes Amigo, it’s simply not funny. Perhaps Jables and Rage Cage can convince the folks over at Paramount to use this song in the straight to DVD release Nacho Libre 2 because it is not worthy of anything else.

Other songs on the album don’t seem to fare much better. Deth Starr, much like the entire Rize Of The Fenix experience, is an unfocused and musically uninspired nightmare. After multiple listens, it is still not clear whether they were trying to devise a plan for what to do after Global Warming destroys the Earth, or were simply looking for an excuse to make a joke about Uranus. The song Throwdown seems to epitomize what Christian rockers would sound like if they were trying to cover Iggy Pop’s Passenger. Rock Is Dead is another generic number with cliché riffs and some serious name dropping over tears. Sharing the same message that we have heard from the likes of Marilyn Manson and Lenny Kravitz, we get that rock is dead, thanks for the useless reminder.

You know things are bad when the decade old live staple They Fucked Our Asses can’t turn around the downhill momentum of the once mighty Tenacious D. Yes, the Iron Maiden-esque tasty riffs at the end will no doubt give the hair upon your arms a tiny tingle but that feeling quickly goes away with To Be The Best. Musically, it manages to suck harder than the Pick Of Destiny dud Car Chase City and it’s clear in the vocals that not even the D believe they are the best at this point.

The album ends with the depressing 39. Once again the self-declared “Greatest Band In The World” aim low as they sing about women who are a year away from 40. While it is hard not to laugh when Black sings a pre-chorus, sharing the joys of self-inflicted anal stimulation, he really should leave the Bruce Springsteen impressions to Jimmy Fallon. Perhaps the D are stretching for signs of maturity as they close the album, but sadly all 39 does is serves as the final blow to the D’s once mighty pedestal.

It is clear that in 2012, Tenacious D no longer wants to be the best. In fact it is clear that they want to be painfully mediocre. Where early D classics like Tribute, Karate and Double Team still hold up well over a decade after they were unleashed upon the world, a majority of the material upon Fenix is no longer tolerable let alone funny after two or three listens. Black may claim after the epic reunion between him and Gass within the lyrics of Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Cage that “nothing and no one can harm the old Rage Cage again” but it is clear that the only thing harming Tenacious D at this point is themselves.


Tenacious D

Rize Of The Fenix

Released: 15/05/2012
Label: Columbia
1. Rize Of The Fenix  
2. Low Hangin' Fruit  
3. Classical Teacher (Skit)
4. Señorita  
5. Deth Starr  
6. Roadie  
7. Flutes And Trombones
8. Ballad Of Hollywood Jack And The Rage Kage  
9. Throw Down  
10. Rock Is Dead  
11. They Fucked Our Asses  
12. To Be The Best  
13. 39  

Meanwhile, On The Internet...

  1. Reverend Justito says:

    Great minds think alike. That or they can just spot a really bad Bruce imitation.

  2. Lams says:

    You do realize that being very mediocre is part of the joke right? what’s so mindblowing about karate and rock your socks? I’d love to read your review of the first album “Even though jack promised to rock my socks off, he did not” I mean, why did you even compare them to arcade fire? that was a joke, of course they’re not better than arcade fire

  3. Shoulda given them no stars after ripping them to shreds like that. I better not see you in any D shows coz you obviously don’t like them anymore. Sheesh.

  4. Dr. FeelGood says:

    REVEREND JUSTITO – I don’t think you understand the D or their power.

    • Reverend Justito says:

      Oh I understand it and that is why I refuse to accept such mediocre horse piss from JB and KG.

  5. Russell says:

    Serious Tenacious D album reviews completely miss the point of Tenacious D.

    • chad says:

      At times it reads like the author himself is trying to make a joke by writing about the D so seriously. I’m honestly confused by lines like “an average song with lyrical content we have all heard before in regard to groupies pleasing roadies in order to get access to the band”, because obviously the cliched lines themselves are the joke.

  6. SparkyDR99 says:

    “During its opening weekend, Nacho Libre grossed $28,309,599, opening at #2 behind Cars’ second weekend. The total domestic box office stands at $80,197,993 and a worldwide total of $99,255,460.”

  7. Kevin says:

    I haven’t heard the album yet – but I’m looking forward to it now. Pretty harsh review! You’re right about Car Chase City though. Worst song on that movie’s soundtrack.

  8. Tony says:

    Car Chase City fucking rocks! What is wrong with you people

  9. Shaun says:

    yeah that was a pretty rough review. take it easy pal, it’s all a joke, remember?

  10. ShitizenGayne says:

    I don’t know what the fuck you guys are talking about. This album sucked bigtime. This was easily one of the most accurate reviews I’ve read.

    And to the people saying that the mediocrity is all part of the joke. Bullshit. Rock your socks off did actually rock your socks off. Karate actually did kick your ass. The reason the D became huge is because the début was so fucking radical and funny. Well, not “the” reason but it helped. If they came out with this sub-par swill on their first time. Believe me. Nobody would give a damn. I worship the D as much as the next man but I won’t blindly swallow their stale loads like all you sycophantic turds.

  11. Lingo says:

    If you don’t enjoy Jack Black incoherently warbling “she don’t need no diamond rings” at the end of the brilliantly banal ballad ’39’ then I don’t know if you truly get Tenacious D.

    To quote JB himself, Tenacious D make music that’s “aggressively stupid”. The better and more ambitous the musicianship is, the dumber and filthier the lyrics have to be. It’s science.

  12. Bullshit review, All three albums rock my socks off, this is actually music, there is nothing and i mean nothing that can be called music today other then, The D. All you Faggots that are talking shit can suck on a Choad!

  13. Little Mikey says:

    I totally agree with this review – worst D cd ever – I even bought the deluxe version with 2 xtra tracks. I liked the title track and the 2 bonus tracks were ok but the rest pretty much sucks. When I heard track one I was like alright ! the D is back – then it just takes a dive – hard wasted my money on this one the deluxe came with a dvd I have not watched yet -

  14. The thing about Tenacious D is that while some of their lyrics are cheesy and none of their songs are completely serious lyrically, they are still solid songs. Everyone wants to discount them because they get categorized as comedy. I think it is like fresh air – it is a rock band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, they just love to make music and that is what they do. The standout tracks from the album would have to be “Deth Starr” and the title track “Rize Of The Fenix” (which from what I’ve read is supposed to be Tenacious D’s version of “Eye Of The Tiger”). Bottom line, the album is better than “The Pick Of Destiny” and at least as good as their self-titled debut. It is worth checking out, and I hope they continue to make music in the future. <—- This is a real review

  15. jason parks says:

    You douche bags that just don’t get it, shut your fucking mouths! Nobody should have to read your bullshit reviews… it’s fags like you who have kept the D from us for so long! You don’t have to like it, and if for some queer reason you don’t… keep that shit to yourself! You fuckin NOBODY!!!

  16. jake says:

    Hey jason you are so right I happen to think this album rocks and is really entertaining. a fine return to form ,and reverend justito you are a callous asshole who dosent seem to no shit about musical credabillity ,you probably listen to emo rock am I right?.

  17. deeznutz says:

    It’s too bad we can’t review your reviews. I’d like to see how many middle fingers you would get for this pile of turd review right here!

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