“Deth Starr” is a genre-bending track that begins with dreamy, jazzy chords reminiscent of The Pick of Destiny’s “Papagenu (He's My Sassafrass)” before switching abruptly to heavy rock. A trio of mini-songs precedes the album’s final listed track, “39,” which is its most ambitious composition after the title track. In a world-weary, Springsteenian growl, Black delivers an ode to a 39-year-old female companion. Despite a mid-song description of some strange (and hilarious) texting proclivities, it manages to be the heartfelt and oddly touching. This will likely be a showstopper in concert when the D hit the road next month.
The magic of Tenacious D is that, at their best, they are able to transcend the joke behind their very existence. Going all the way back to their short-lived HBO sitcom (available on The Complete Masterworks DVD), the humor stemmed from seeing two slovenly, overweight goofballs truly believing they were rock gods. But the real punch line was that their songs actually kicked major ass. Their melodies and chord changes frequently wander off course, turning formulaic cock rock into unpredictable delights. The mock-grandeur of songs such as “Tribute” and “Wonderboy” (both from the 2001 debut album) is so passionately executed, it becomes the real deal. Happily, Rize of the Fenix continues that tradition.
Hopefully we get more Tenacious D before another six years go by. Regardless of what the future holds, Rize of the Fenix is a splendid addition to their small but potent discography. Their tour begins May 23rd in Santa Barbara, CA, with many dates scheduled in the U.S. and Europe throughout the summer. Check the official Tenacious D website for more information.