The self-proclaimed greatest band in the world, Tenacious D is an acoustic, comedy metal duo from Los Angeles. The group is comprised of Kyle Gass and Jack Black, and often features guest appearances from the likes of Dave Grohl, Meatloaf, John Spiker, and a multitude of well known actors and actresses lending their star power to music videos and films.
Tenacious D rose to prominence in the late 1990’s with a short lived, three episode series on HBO, but they became household, or more accurately, dorm room names in 2001 with the release of their self-titled debut LP. The record was a unique mix of stoner humor and absurdism tied together by the pair’s obvious love of the metal genre and production and instrumentation which was far better than it had any business being. Five years later, they released Pick of Destiny as a film and album, which bombed in the box office, but has since developed a massive cult following. In 2012, we were given Rize Of the Fenix, another large success that launched a massive world tour. Six years later, we finally have our forth installment in the Tenacious D catalog, this time in the form of a soundtrack accompaniment to a six episode animated series on YouTube in which Gass plays himself, and Black voices all other characters as well as himself. The project is equal parts absurd and fantastic, resulting in a worthwhile return for the D.
Firstly, we’ll need to discuss this story, in all of it’s insanity, beat by beat. JB and KG, as they are called throughout the record, begin by witnessing a nuclear holocaust and meeting a two headed dog, which they name Hope. They start traveling across the country and meet a clan of cave women who sleep with them before trying to feed them to the horrifying cave monster, Crackalackadingdong. Hope kills the monster and the three escape, running into a German scientist who lets the band audition for a trip to space station full of famous musicians and beautiful women. The scientist only takes JB, who excepts his offer, but returns to Earth after a heartfelt duet with KG because he misses his bandmate.
After Jack returns, they are attacked by the father of Crackalackadingdong, Daddy Ding Dong, but they’re saved by a Terminator-esque robot, sent from the future by JB Jr, Jack Black’s son with one of the cave women. JB Jr. instructs his father and KG to retrieve the “Orb of Gilgamesh” from the White House, which is now under the control of a tyrannical Donald Trump Jr. and guarded by large numbers of KKK and Nazi soldiers. Along with the robot, Tenacious D battle their way through the armies and teach Trump Jr. the value of diversity before taking the orb to Egypt on Air Force One to meet JB Jr. in the pyramids.
When they arrive, they find out that JB Jr. is evil and only wanted to orb to take over the universe. He’s about to kill the D when the tribe of cave women arrive on the Crackalacka Dragon and defeat JB Jr. The album ends with a quick interlude celebrating the fact that the band just saved the world and a reprise of the original title track and opener. A fair amount of story is cut in the transition from web series to album, but the bones remain, and they’re quite well executed.
The story is told through two means. The first of these are spoken skits, which are definitely the album’s highlight. Bits like “scientists,” and “cave women,” show of Jack Black’s voice acting quite well, sold by his willingness to give his all to virtually any joke. On the other hand, “i’ve got to go,” and “desolation,” play on the stoner dynamic which has always been a staple of the duo’s comedy.
These are balanced by musical passages which are a bit softer than what we’ve come to expect from Tenacious D, but nonetheless, very enjoyable. Most of these tracks wear their influences on their sleeve. “MAKING LOVE” is an obvious call back to the indulgent, orchestral style of acts like Styx, while “F*CK YO-YO MA” is almost a parody of the classic, musical theatre duet. The “JB JR RAP” near the end is, perhaps, the most impressive moment in the 30-minute runtime, though not the true best song on the album, because Tenacious D shows the ability to dabble in the rap genre without coming across as dated or out of touch.
The album isn’t perfect. Few of the songs have the sing-along or replay value of some of their early hits, and some of the skits overstay their welcome, but overall, it’s a very listenable record.
Post-Apocalypto may not win over the uninitiated, but it’s certainly a welcome new chapter for fans of the greatest acoustic metal comedy duo of all time.
HEAR POST-APOCALYPTO: https://open.spotify.com/album/4O83oaztVuBlPDrp50Q3mh