The last few weeks have seen the pair make their surprising and glorious return as a band to unleash their third album Rize of the Fenix, their first album since 2006s bombing The Pick of Destiny. In between that time, much has happened with the duo and by "the duo" I do only mean Jack Black. And with much of his successes coming from his continuing role as an actor, appearing in such family friendly films as Kung-Fu Panda and Gulliver's Travels, it's perhaps questionable as to just how full on a return to being a respectable foul-mouthed rockstar who exclaims the word "Fuck" every few seconds can be. The group have clearly showed initiative to make a return to their full explicit selves that the world fell in love with ten years ago on this album before it even begins with the controversial album cover which I've not been afraid to show on this very review.
Musically, they certainly keep their potty-mouths in place. The opening title track shows this as Jack Black claims that the D will "fuckin' rise" like the "fuckin' phoenix", as they remain sure that they can still be "the shit." and Jack isn't afraid to scream at Kyle that he is a "Goddamn motherfuckin' stupid piece of shit."
While the lyrics of the D are as foul as ever, the song matters of Rize of the Fenix are broad and thought provoking. Seriously. They spread engaging ideas such as constructing a death star to party on in Deth Starr, the hardships of being a roadie on tour on The Roadie as Black explains "When a beautiful girl come to me, she say, hey can I sucka your dick/ An I'll say yes I'm in love/ And then she quickly says I sucked your dick/ Now give me backstage pass, I do not want you roadie/ I want KG's chode." It's subtle and delivered as tenderly as a brick on fire. But it highlights the song's message that roadie life is not difficult.
More gripping is the mini rock opera that is The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage, a song that fairly accurately describes the ascent that Black had in life as an actor while Gass made little moves. As Jack sings "So Hollywood Jack lived up high in a bubble, while Rage Kage lived low in the valley below" and "He'd screen Kage's calls and snort coke off the ass of a whore", you listen and realise there's probably an element of truth in all that is being said and realise there's more of an emotional serious tone across this album. The pair really do speak the truth in their songs no matter how funny they manage to be in doing so. Even the closer 39, a love ballad about a middle aged couple and the most rancid love ballad ever written is touching in some way. I'm probably the only one that thinks this way, while everyone else thinks it's just funny.
Musically, the performance on Rize of the Fenix is a step up and will definitely impress fans of the D's more metallic credentials. Red hot riffs can be heard across the likes of Low Hangin' Fruit and They Fucked Our Asses which display a thrashier side to the groups music than ever heard, while the Spanish tinged performance of Señorita is as gripping as the kind of performances that many more serious contemporaries in hard rock would have on offer.
So, with Tenacious D at long last making their return and a return to form to the world with Rize of the Fenix, do they still have the ability to shake the world as they did before? Does this album feature songs that all my friends at school would gladly sing along to? Probably not. But what they do posses is the power to play rock and metal music with a greater passion and velocity. Have years of being trapped in Hollywood and doing nothing to radical sparked this desire to chase their rock and roll dreams once more. Who knows? But Rize of the Fenix shows the power of the D is still rooted deep into the ground of modern rock and they can still make their listeners think about their messages, laugh along with them and ultimately worship them once again like it was 2002 and they had just so happened to play the best song in the world. Long live the D!
Tenacious D's Rize of the Fenix is out now via Columbia. The band will tour the UK in June and will perform at Download Festival on the 9th of June.