Review: Tenacious D’s ‘Rize of the Fenix’ is better than most ‘real’ rock albums

“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 phoenix.”

These words enticingly open Tenacious D’s new album and its title track Rize of the Fenix,  which dropped this week. The song is a rousing and inspiring rock tune that expresses the band’s desire to rise to the top of the charts and rescue rock and roll. Front man Jack Black said in a recent interview with Reuters that this third album is “in all seriousness, better than any album out there right now.”

Six years after Destiny failed to live up to the reputation comedy rock duo Jack Black and Kyle Gass had built with their debut self-titled album, Rize of the Fenix is here, which, Black says, explores “deeper, darker themes” than their past work. He’s not lying. The new release sees The D adding new flavors to their tunes, like the latin beats employed in ‘Senorita,’ which Black describes as “a story about a man who falls in love with a  woman who can’t let go of her abusive relationship.” He adds, “It doesn’t sound funny.”

Still, it’s hard not to crack a smile simply upon hearing Black’s distinct comedic voice, even if he is belting lyrics like, “I’ll…kill the man who has done you wrong.” But maybe the duo is just right for exploring such deeper issues. A few jokes and a good melody may be the best formula for cracking into deep, boring or uncomfortable topics. Typically, the duo don’t take anything too seriously, which is, to Black’s frustration, why traditional rock music critics can’t accept them into the fold. But even though the album will have you rolling with laughter, the band’s musical talents can’t be denied.

“Since we had our last album, rock and roll completely died,” Black said. “Thank God for The D, riding in on their white stallions to rescue rock and roll.”

Even if the duo fail to break through to traditional rock and roll fans with Rize, the band’s fans will surely not be disappointed. You’ll be rooting for them throughout the album, with the recurring theme of a beloved duo clawing their way up from the ashes to well-deserved fame. Titles like “The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage” will have the most dedicated fans reminiscing over the band’s history; “Deth Starr” will get you LOLing at the band’s signature satire; and the catchy country-rock tune “Throw Down” will surprise you with its brilliant take on organized religion. And then there’s “Low Hanging Fruit,” for which you can peep the video below.

“I’ve always wanted to have one of those hits on the radio, but we haven’t really been able to crack that code,” Gass said. “I think we’re trying this time a lot.” Their effort is not in vain. Rize is a great album with potential to fulfill its own prophecy: “Just like the phoenix, we’ll fuckin’ ri – ye – ise again!”

Listen to the title track below. You can preview the entire album here, and purchase it through iTunes, Amazon, or Tenacious D’s official store.

Dana Sitar

Dana Sitar is a freelance comedy journalist trying to answer the question “What is it like to be a comedian?” She shares this quest and other tips from the writer's life at and on Twitter @DanaSitar

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