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Rize of the Fenix Clean, Import
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CLEAN. 2012 release, the third album from the comedy rock duo. Rize Of The Fenix is the follow-up to 2006's The Pick Of Destiny and 2001's platinum debut album Tenacious D. Produced by the brilliant John Kimbrough, Rize Of The Fenix was recorded in the garage behind his LA home and features Jack Black and Kyle Gass (Tenacious D's core duo), performing with Dave Grohl (drums), John Spiker (bass, piano, organ) and John Konesky (electric guitar). The album was engineered and mixed by John Spiker who has been touring with the band for years. Rize Of The Fenix was recorded over the past six years as Tenacious D went back to their roots. "We recorded down and dirty in a friend's garage with a shoestring budget of 600 dollars, much like Nirvana's first album Bleach-or the Beatles first album Help. Rough and yet a masterpiece."
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1) Rize of the Fenix - A great opening song. Slow melodic start, and then the speed picks up and...The D is back! There's nothing amazingly different about it but it sure as hell reminds you just why you love the band. Reminds me of "City Hall", and that's certainly not a bad thing!
2) Low Hanging Fruit - This one is interesting. It's unusually fast for this band. It expands their talents and manages to be very addictive too. What's more, it has that balance of soft acoustic and distorted electric guitar which melds together for great effect.
3) Classical Teacher - The first skit of the album. You'll have to make up your own mind about this...humour is subjective. What the hell am I saying, you're a D fan! Funny stuff!
4) Senorita - Another new sound. I've just been reminded why I love Kyle's guitar-playing. At this point we're seeing some serious variety. The explosive ending is classic Tenacious D.
5) Deth Starr - Nice relaxing opening, then BANG! Addictive, fast-paced riffs and smooth flowing vocals from Mr Jack Black. You'll be singing along with this one, I guarantee.
6) Roadie - This one seems to be getting a lot of praise, but it doesn't do much for me. Objectively, I can see that it's a good song, but for me, there's nothing captivating about it. I've listened to it many times to get the hang of it, and I don't feel any reason to go back to it. But give it a shot. Music is subjective, just like humour.
7) Flutes and Trombones - Another skit. I know reviews are meant to be pretty formal, but I think a LOL is appropriate here.
8) The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage - This is my second favourite on the entire album. I love the melody, and despite the humorous tone of Jack's voice it's quite a moving song.
9) Throw Down - My favourite! This is possibly D's most addictive song to date in my opinion. They've really captured something here. Again, a very different vibe and rhythm. But I must have listened to it about 15 times already.
10) Rock is Dead - Fast and comedic. This is one to headbang to from start to finish. Stick it on repeat.
11) This is one of those short-but sweet tracks, in the same vain as something like "History". If that's an aspect of the D that you like, then you're in for a treat, but personally, this song feels like it was given up on just when it got going. A treat for some, a miss for others.
12) To Be the Best - Same story here.
13) 39 - A slow, melodic and comedic ending to what I think could be the best D album to date. Jack's voice is experimental here. It shows a different approach in terms of vocal style, and I'm liking it. This one brings the tone down and leaves you quite fulfilled. "Rize of the Fenix" goes full circle.
All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with "Rize of the Fenix". It's enjoyable on many levels, and is superior to its predecessors in many ways. Each album holds something unique, and this one has something new. It's a lot closer in sound to the debut, but it cherry-picks some of the finer elements of P.O.D, and makes them work together. Meanwhile, in bursts the next generation of the D!
Highly recommended! It's melodic, smooth, and versatile. Pretty damn funny too.
LONGER REVIEW: I couldn't wait for this album to come out. I set aside the evening, prepared -- stereo cranked up, on my fourth or fifth drink, etc. -- and listened straight through paying close attention. My first impression wasn't great to be honest -- I thought it was a little "soft". I almost wrote a knee-jerk negative review saying the D had lost it etc. Instead I went to bed. The next day I listened to the album again but in the background at a lower volume. It started getting its hooks into me. That was last week, and I've now listened to the album a dozen times or so. I've also done a "comprehensive review" of the D recently -- I've listened to the other 2 albums a bunch of times and rewatched everything including the POD movie. My conclusion? "The Rize of the Fenix" is a very rich, multi-layered and creative album. Dare I say it's really "mature," in the sense that JB & KG's songwriting has evolved to encompass a wider variety of styles. Don't worry -- it's still really vulgar, profane and hilarious, but the scope is wider in my opinion. "39," and "The Ballad Of Hollywood Jack And The Rage Kage" stand out in this regard (anyone else hear Neil Diamond in there?) And I don't mean that they've half-assed tried to write songs in genres other than metal/rock in order to appear creative and diverse but ended up contriving some BS. Not at all. They've upped the ante and successfully produced a complex and advanced masterpiece. The impression I get is that they are far from complacent -- they've worked their asses off in the interim and pushed their own limits and it paid off. Some fans might be unable or unwilling to evolve and work harder to appreciate their effort -- and that's fine. This album does require substantial input/effort on the listener's part, but it will be repaid in spades with interest. Lest you think I've blindly swallowed every last inch of the rizen fenix, I personally think "Rock Is Dead" and "To Be The Best" are kind of boring, standard and the weakest songs on the album. I could do without them. HOWEVER, they lead up to the last song, "39," which is just incredible. A few random notes in closing:
* "The Ballad Of Hollywood Jack And The Rage Kage": listen to how beautiful the song becomes starting around 2:05, "he would cry and he would rage ... for the stage." Don't get me wrong, the whole song is awesome, but that part is over the top! And the lyric "Because Rage Kage and I can't you see are ONE AND THE SAME!!"
* "Throw Down" starts a little soft, perhaps -- that's a fair criticism. But I love the transition around 1:40, and then it really starts rocking around 2:00 -- and I *love* the clapping! It's little details like this that push this album over like the 9th edge they pushed it over!
* the title track "Rize Of The Fenix" is excellent and worth the price of the album alone. Anyone else hear some "2112" or even "Beneath, Between, Behind" in there? Just a thought. JB's got some great vocal work in there too.
* "Low Hanging Fruit" is classic D.
* "Senorita" is another example of the D's style evolution. I love the horns, the buildup at 2:33, and they nail the guitar (classical, acoustic and electric).
The long, ever-changing ballad which opens up this album is exactly what I wanted from my D. The voice of Jables mixed with the Rage Kage dishing out those tasty riffs seemed to return me immediately to the end of the first album, seemingly beginning where they had left off at "City Hall". Songs like "Deth Starr" and "Ballad of Hollywood Jack" are amazingly fun to listen to, and there is a lot here where they try out some new things as well without lapsing over into territory that is boring or doesn't work. It ALL works, and there really isn't a lull on this album that I can think of.
The gist is, if you are a fan of Tenacious D at all, then you will almost certainly like this album, and perhaps even love it. The Pick of Destiny might not have been my cup of tea, but Rize of the Fenix is the monster shot of bourbon I was waiting for.
-Tracks "Rize of the Fenix," "Roadie," "To Be the Best," and a few others are standouts. "Roadie" I think is one of their best songs of all time.
-The actual music is good in terms of diversity. Different styles, genres, tempos, etc. all appear on the album. The song "39" is a great example of the reaching out a bit (a sort of old-country-ish ballad).
-Length is short (as I mentioned earlier).
-Skits. There's only two. They're great, but again, only two. Where's the "small seasoned curlies" and "one song in the bank...next song"?
-There's some duds on here that are not terribly funny nor great as just a song. Though nothing on the album I would classify as terrible, "Throw Down" "Low Hanging Fruit" and "Rivers of Brown (BB Bonus Track)" are pretty forgettable.
I've only had the album a week, but I know every word and fluctuation in Jack's voice on the previous albums. I have a feeling that won't be happening with this one...worth buying though if you're an above average to fanatic D fan.
The vinyl edition is quite possibly the best sounding newly produced vinyl albums i've ever bought, when comparing the sound quality of the vinyl with the sound quality of the CD edition i hear almost no differences.
The vinyl also comes with a code good for one MP3 download of the entire album, and one of the funniest most awesomest posters ever. I have uploaded some photos of the vinyl edition for your viewing pleasures.