Give Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass) credit for brutal honesty: “When The Pick of Destiny was released,” Black sings on “Rize of the Fenix,” the eponymous opening track of the duo’s new album, “… it was a bomb.”
Their movie not only bombed, it took the D with it as collateral damage. Or so we thought. “One thing no one thought about was the D would rise again,” Black replies to critics, “just like the Fenix.” Yes, the D is back with its first album since 2006’s soundtrack to The Pick of Destiny. But much like Black’s stalled film career, Rize of the Fenix is nothing to get excited about.
The pair’s new comedy disc is really just the same repackaged joke about a faux ’80s-metal-folk-prog band playing with real musicians (John Konesky, guitar; Dave Grohl, drums; John Spiker, nearly everything else) and spread thin over 13 tracks. “Roadie”—a strange combination of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” and Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”—is a gracious nod to the backstage heroes of rock: “I am the roadie/I make the rock go.” “Deth Starr” (the misspelling probably to prevent a George Lucas smackdown) is the D’s nerdy fantasy, building its own weapon of planet destruction. And “Low Hanging Fruit” is a horny celebration of easy-to-secure one-nighters.
Rize of the Fenix plays like warmed-over D, far from 2001’s brilliant self-titled debut. It begs the question of the duo’s resurrection: Why can’t some things just stay dead?