by Brandon Carson
Tenacious D is a comedy rock/metal band, they are not supposed to be taken seriously and never have been by their fans. Jack Black and Kyle Gass have been making wacky rock music since 1994, and with each record there came a new theme. The first, a group of crazy rock songs, the second, a movie, the third, a ginormous tour with a giant inflatable penis onstage. So, what is new about this one? Well, Jack Black confirmed that it is a direct sequel to their second album and movie ‘The Pick of Destiny,’ but this album did not spawn a movie. Instead, Jack Black drew an entire YouTube cartoon series himself.
The cartoon looks like a 3-year-old drew it on Microsoft Paint, and it is hilarious. The story follows our heroes, JB and KG after someone dropped a nuclear bomb, creating a post-apocalyptic world. They meet a two-headed dog and fittingly name it Hope. Soon after, they run into a tribe of cave women, go to space, meet the Terminator and kill the Daddy-Ding-Dong. Then, the D arrive at the White House to retrieve a green crystal and foil Donald Trump Jr.’s plan of taking over the world. In the end, JB meets his 80-year-old son and they save the world. Whew. The album loosely follows the cartoon, missing a couple pieces of what I think are vital for understanding the end of the album. But what this record does well shows itself in the voice acting, music, and the jokes.
Excellent music that builds the album up
The story for ‘Post-Apocalypto’ is absolutely stupid. It certainly would not be enough to watch as a simple comedy show. The band knew this and recorded some of the best music they have ever made for this record. The album is structured in this pattern: song, exposition, song, exposition, and so on. What is incredible to me on record is how balanced it is between heavy metal and acoustic ballads.
The album begins with a 38 second introduction song, ‘POST-APOCALYPTO THEME’, that mixes thrashing acoustic guitar with blissful, heavy guitar leads and a powerful vocal performance from Black. The song also features Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) giving a powerful drum performance with loud crashes and double bass hits. After some exposition in the story we move on to ‘HOPE’, a song about the D finding a two headed dog which they name Hope. It’s a song that provides a heartfelt and hopeful moment which come about a lot on the record. Again, these songs should not be taken seriously whatsoever. So yes, the lyrics are very dumb, but it’s all about the performance on the slower, acoustic power-ballads.
The slower acoustic songs include the hypnotic ‘MAKING LOVE’, ‘F**K YO-YO-MA’ and the depressing ‘ROBOT.’ These songs not only sound great, but they sound like they were performed with care and not rushed, even if they are silly tunes. These are countered by fast, heavy and devilish tracks such as ‘DADDY DING-DONG’ in which Grohl slams on the drums and includes a hilarious vocal performance from Black doing his voice of the ‘Daddy-Ding-Dong’. Blacks voice on the record is strong and moving, especially in the song ‘F**K YO-YO-MA’, and his shrieks in ‘WOMAN TIME’ are beyond fantastic and hilarious.
‘Post-Apocalypto’ is also very political, surprisingly, with the song ‘COLORS’. In which Donald Trump Jr. sings “Colors are the thing that make the world better/I’ve been seeing things in black and white”. In the story, the White House is under control of Trump Jr., guarded by members of the KKK and several Nazis. The D also sings a short marching chant through the KKK’s perspective as they guard the White House in ‘marCH’.
But just as you think the record couldn’t be more insane, Black’s son in the story, Jables Jr., sings a rap song about taking over the world. It’s a very short song featuring large heaps of auto-tune, trap beats and ends very abruptly making for a low point in the music story.
Black does a majority of the voice work in the story including himself, Donald Trump Jr., the robot, the German scientists, the women, some KKK members, and of course Jables Jr. The voices are ridiculous enough for how ludicrous the story is, providing a few laughs here and there, but the real highlight of the voice acting is in the songs. The satanic voice he uses for ‘DADDY DING-DONG’ works perfectly, and even though his voice for the robot is a poor man’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. it works surprisingly well for how sad the song is. This makes the audience care for the character, which is very hard to do in a comedy album.
A bloated story with many missing pieces
The biggest problem for ‘Post-Apocalypto’ is the story. There are many plot points and characters in the YouTube cartoon, some that are completely missing from the album. Before watching the series, I listened to the album and followed the story well until the ‘who’s your daddy?’ exposition track. Many elements are missing from the album that didn’t allow me to understand who Jables Jr. was, or where the D even was when the song took place.
After I viewed the series, I understood that they took out a lot of exposition about the character and his origins, and what the D was doing with a green crystal of Gilgamesh. Another song or two of the character’s origins, or a song explaining what the motivation was to save the world at the end would’ve helped. Along with that problem, the conclusion to the story is completely missing from the album, giving no sense of an ending after first listen.
Recommended if you like:
Flight of the Concords
The Lonely Island
Featured Image: YouTube
‘Post-Apocalypto’ is a silly but hilarious album. The instrumentals have an excellent flow and include ferocious vocal performance from Black, Gass, and Grohl, but the end of the album falls flat with a lack of context and music. However, it is still a Tenacious D album and holds true to their rock/metal sound and outrageous lyrics creating a very funny, and enjoyable experience.
Brandon Carson is a Journalism Major. He reviews music for Byte and also makes his own music on the side.