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Rize of the Fenix
Tenacious D Rize of the Fenix
Released 11 May 2012
Producer(s) John Kimbrough
Label Columbia
Length 41:16
Genre Comedy, rock
Website www.tenaciousd.com

The D are back! Put your best black t-shirt on, strap your balls to your leg and prepare to be rawwwked!!!

Yes, musical-comedy duo Jack Black and Kyle Gass return with their third studio album, Rise of the Fenix. For those of you who believe in the D, no explanation is necessary. For those of you who don't, none will suffice.

There has been much water under the bridge since the 2006 follow-up release that looked to build upon the cult-crossover appeal of Tenacious D's self-titled debut. The Pick of Destiny was released as both album (soundtrack) and a schlock Hollywood movie...and it did not do well. In fact, in isolation, many agreed that it was one of the worst records ever heard. That said, coming in with expectations lower than a serpent's undercarriage, I found the film to be pretty funny, and a far better vehicle for the songs than the poisonously bad album.

So here we are, in 2012, and the portly princes are still singing about "pee pee" and "ka ka"...But is it funny? Is it good?

Well, yes it is actually. In my view at any rate.

"When The Pick of Destiny was released it was a bomb, and all the critics said that the D was done...And the critics all agreed it was a stinky pile o' chee, but that does not mean that our hearts are not strong. Just like the phoenix, we'll rise again!"

So belts Jack Black (aka JB, aka Jables) in the album's opener. The fact that it wipes the slate clean of their last effort, somewhat, makes the rest of the record that little bit more enjoyable for me. They take their oil and move on, whilst delivering a decent slab o' rock into the bargain.

Yet again, despite their duo status, the Tenacious D sound is ably filled out by multi-layered guitars and a predictably rocking rhythm section from Dave Grohl. If you're terribly serious about your rock, you may not be able to forgive yourself the enjoyment of a tasty riff here and there. But if you're not so fussed, between the laughs there is some decent rocking to be had on the title track, 'Roadie' and 'Senorita'.

Of course the best Tenacious D moment to date came with their top ten single 'Tribute' back in 2001. This was when they found just the right mix of genuine comedy gold and a great tune. It is a tricky path to tread, but the closest they come to replicating this formula here would be on 'Roadie', '39' and 'Low Hanging Fruit'.

In 'Roadie' we hear the previously unsung lament of the roadie and all of his travails; "And the Roadie knows what the Roadie knows, and the Roadie knows that he wears black clothes." The whole song has more than a hint of Avenged Sevenfold about its delivery which I found curious!

While on 'Low Hanging Fruit' and '39', the D's voracious sexual appetite is once again laid bare, with lyrics that are not for the squeamish, and so I shall refrain from quoting them here! Much of these songs are available for free at www.tenaciousd.com/music/rize-fenix where you can try them on for size before you buy.

When the jokes miss the mark, or just aren't that funny, you do get the feeling that you're just listening to an Iron Maiden rip-off act. And on the whole, the songs are a bit hit and miss. The comedic interludes are genuinely funny however, although none match the tear-inducing brilliance of 'Inward Singing' from their eponymous debut effort.

You'll be pleasantly surprised if you had previously been a fan of the D, but had been put off by The Pick of Destiny. This is better fare by far. If you never liked them, and can't stand anything that Jack Black has ever done, then bravo for reading this far into my review!

Yes the humour is vulgar, crude and scatological but it did genuinely make me have to cover my face in a public place on more than one occasion whilst listening to it on my iPod.

And I can't say the same about Slayer.

- D. Egan