When Tenacious D released their first comedy infused album of metal and hard rock send ups over five years ago 'D members Jack Black and Kyle Gass were up and comers in the world of comedy. Their often hilarious little album titled simply Tenacious D was embraced by everyone from detractors of metal to supporters alike, the former viewing the duo as the next best genre mockery to Spinal Tap and the latter with a sense of humor who could laugh at themselves while keeping tongue firmly in cheek. Unfortunately for some of the more serious minded among us the 'D came to represent something different, as some viewed them as an opportunity to slag off and insult the metal/rock genres 'D embraced comedically, while others simply saw them as blasphemous toward the music they loved so much. Perhaps the boys blurred the lines just a bit too much for those not familiar then with what we are all familiar with now? Which is the fact that Jack Black and Kyle Gass are comedians first and musicians second. Or third or fourth, for that matter. Whatever the case, "Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny", leaves no doubt of the groups intentions this time around as it is the soundtrack to an upcoming comedic film of the same name. Take off your thinking caps, rock fans. This is supposed to be ridiculous. And it is.
Not unlike their first effort most of the "songs" on Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny clock in at around or under the two minute mark and with the exception of the album opener, the four minute movie set up "Kickapoo", this album is no different with just a few other tracks on the record approaching or exceeding the three minute mark. "Kickapoo", "Classico", "Baby", "Destiny" and "History" which get things started plays out like a little comedic rock opera that would make even Pete Townshend proud as the duo serve notice of their mission to be ROCK GODS in the outrageous Kickapoo, and proceed to tell us in Classico that Kyle Gass is "f***ing rocking and f***ing rollling and f***ing rocking and f***ing rolling and will kick your f***ing a**", as Jack Black sings like Ronnie James Dio in a pair of too tight, well, tights. And "History" is meant to give us just that on this band where the boys tell us they "reign supreme" not unlike a "Burrito Supreme, a Chicken Supreme, a Cutlass Supreme", etc. Funny stuff to be sure. As comedy and music it's all very entertaining, if nothing more. And it really attempts to be nothing more. Which is just fine and most likely best.
Musically speaking Jack and Kyle pretty much have Hard Rock/Metal 101 down pat in a 70's kind of way, and their chops are more then good enough to make most of the music here tuneful and listenable. "Papagenu (He's My Sassafrass)" does an acoustic/flute fairy tale hippie jig until the final third when it turns into a mythic metal jam about Big Foot and "shiny diamonds he's got to protect", at one point Black rhyming "he's got to protect" with "these lyrics don't make sense." And they don't, although I'm sure like many of these songs they find context within the film. But they don't need
the movie to connect and be funny. "The Government Totally Sucks" is not only funny but it also happens to be satiric, sharp, and somewhat relevant in todays American political climate. "Ben Franklin was a rebel indeed/He liked to get naked while he smoked on the weed/He was a genius but if he was here today/The government would f*** him up his righteous A/The government totally sucks you motherf***er" go the lyrics in front of an acoustic led gallop. Its pretty damn good. And funny. And the 'D rock out big and funny on "The Metal" where the true power of true metal lol is exulted toward the mythic heavens as Black rolls off a litany of metal "threats" throughout the ages (or at least the last 30 years) that tried to bring "the metal" down, from punk, to grunge, to techno. But "the metal would have it's way", withstanding all. As well it should. After all, it's METAL. And we all know that is home to all things Godly. Or Satanic. Or Elfin. Or Deadly. Or whatever the hell they have going on these days.
The shortened length of this album actually helps it to be easier to swallow then the debut no matter who you are. That album at 21 songs and nearly an hour in length was a bit much for fans and newcomers alike. If you didn't get the comedy you most likely wouldn't venture there. And even if you enjoyed the music, generic riffs are generic riffs no matter how funny the material is or what it's supposed to be or not be. For some it was a case of skip around the CD or enough was simply enough after several songs. At 34 minutes and just 16 songs long, several of which are under two minutes, this CD flows nicely and keeps the funny coming on each and every track. Short blasts of ROCK such as the ridiculous "Master Exploder" is hilarious and its metal riffing tolerable because unlike Judas Priest it's two minutes of Jack Black shrieking like Rob Halford, not eight minutes of Rob Halford shrieking like, well, Rob Halford. And tunes like the acoustic "Dude ( I Totally Miss You)" manage to be sweet, funny, and stupid all at the same time while this albums "epic", the almost six minute "Beelzaboss (The Final Showdown)", is just that in a Tenacious D sort of way as the boys weave spells of evil that go from metal to folk and back to metal again. Something about a "Rock Off" and the dark forces and a "rock n roll devil". I dunno? Check the film. But its funny as hell. And that's a good thing for a comedy album.
The fact Tenacious D still exist in the face of superstardom for Black and a different sort of success for his friend Kyle Gass is perhaps the best testament of all as to how much this comedy duo enjoy the music they send up and pull the humor out of so readily. Whether or not they love the metal genre itself or love it because of the gold mine of potential humor they find there is really besides the point. When Tenacious D's first record hit it was met with a chorus of cheers but also with some hissing from those who either didn't get it or didn't care. With Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny in record stores and soon enough coming to a theater near you, its now pretty clear what this band from the imagination of Jack Black and Kyle Gass has been about all along. Its about friendship, love of the music, talking to your Ronnie James Dio poster, and not taking yourself at all too seriously. At least not so much so you forget how to laugh at things you may hold sacred, metal or otherwise. And thats a pretty good thing for an album to help us remember. Oh, and of course it's about the pick. The Mythic Pick Of DESTINY! Rock on, funny boys....