Just like with Jack Black’s acting career, time has only seen Tenacious D grow more and more stale. Their self-titled debut and The Pick Of Destiny were both fine as novelties, but believe it or not, the concept of the unsubtly lewd worship of classic metal tropes played by two middle-aged men with acoustic guitars does begin to wear thin after a while. At least oversaturation hasn’t been an issue – their last album Rise Of The Fenix was released all the way back in 2012 – but it was largely pretty bad, and considering that neither Black nor Kyle Gass have had any particularly pertinent film roles since would be enough to assume that this whole project is just dead in the water. Apparently not though, given the mere existence of Post-Apocalypto, the album supposedly designed to resurrect Tenacious D’s career and somehow prove that more base comedy-rock is what the world needs.
And look, it’s not like anyone really expects anything from Tenacious D beyond the obvious, and that alone would be enough to suggest that Post-Apocalypto has absolutely nothing to offer in terms of bringing this corpse back to life. And while that’s completely true, a semi-socio-political concept album was not something that would’ve been high on the list of what the duo would’ve returned with. That in itself is a bit of a loaded description when it comes to what this album actually is, because those intentions clearly take a backseat to the general world that Tenacious D have crafted here; imagine Will Ferrell’s horrendous adaptation of Land Of The Lost from 2009 crossed with The Terminator and a bunch of malformed Adult Swim pilots and bad YouTube animations swilling round in Jack Black’s head, and you’re more or less there.
If that all sounds unspeakably awful, it’s because it really is, but it’s a bad concept made even worse by the fact that Tenacious D simply aren’t funny, and rather than any sort fo subtlety or timing that’s essential for good comedy, Post-Apocalypto puts its surplus of bad impressions and unnecessary crassness right to the fore to highlight just how little they have to work with. It’s not like the narrative helps matters either, largely being scaled down to Black and Gass being stranded on a post-apocalyptic Earth and subjected to a number of unexplained and unconnected events, but the lack of any wit or humour is so blatant that it fails to even tip into anti-comedy irony. And of course, it means that any appeal is pretty much nonexistent; no one wants to hear Gass’ process of receiving oral sex relayed in excruciating, disgusting detail on MAKING LOVE, and with the greatest depth of political commentary is insinuating that Donald Trump Jr is a member of the KKK on marCH, it’s played so on-the-nose with no tact or wit that it lacks any of the intelligence that could make this sort of thing work. The entire album simply feels like a bad improv comedy routine without the comedy, as the pair scramble to cram in the first ideas that come inside their heads regardless of how ill-fitting or stupid they might be, and it works about as well as anyone with even the most basic knowledge of comedy would presume.
And is it even worth bringing up the music? Most of the time there is none given the number of interludes to form the bulk of the story, but the simplistic acoustic strums of POST-APOCALYPTO THEME or the incredibly bland folk of HOPE and ROBOT feel like the least intrusive musical path they could take to not overshadow the narrative (because God forbid that happened, right?). Even when there’s a bit more flair in the hard rock tracks like DADDY DING DONG, it still remains such a basic approximation of whatever genre is trying to be emulated, reaching a truly disgraceful nadir on the aborted foetus of a hip-hop track JB JR RAP that combines typically asinine writing, a brittle, dull beat and perhaps the most grating accent on the whole album for a true low point, not only on this album but probably in the lives of everyone involved. The one track that could possibly be considered okay is FUCK YO-YO MA, simply for its more tasteful orchestral arrangement, but otherwise, Post-Apocalypto’s music is about as unremarkable as its narrative is nonsensical.
And sure, that might all be the point, and this is just an exercise in some kind of surrealist attempt at anti-humour that just manages to veer off track. But there are two main reasons why that’s not likely to be the case – a) the territory it inhabits is clearly meant to be taken as straight comedy to some age group or subset of listeners, and b) Tenacious D have never indicated any intention of the sort for as long as they’ve been a band. And while that’s bad enough, and can honestly unravel an entire album’s appeal if damaging enough (which, for the record, it is), Post-Apocalypto just lacks any kind of competency that could even see it survive on a music level. The majority of the tracks here are either interludes or never last for more than a minute-and-a-half, never having enough room to build into any convincing musical quality that Tenacious D never make evident that they even possess. It simply fails on every conceivable plane, and leaves it as more fortunate than anything that Tenacious D are less relevant now than they ever have been.
For fans of: Electric Six, Richard Cheese, Ninja Sex Party
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Post-Apocalypto’ by Tenacious D is out now on Columbia Records.