The long awaited Tenacious D film arrives, and in its wake comes the soundtrack. Don’t be fooled though, The Pick Of Destiny serves as a soundtrack alone. Don’t buy this blindly thinking that this is a full D release, because it falls a long way short.
Comedy albums can be a hit and miss affair, and whereas their first album hit the mark perfectly, The Pick of Destiny swings wildly and misses. To be fair though, it is an album that accompanies a film, and as such the content is wholly tied to the movie, which doesn’t allow The D to spread their wings fully. Many of these songs are bogged down in exposition, their only reason to exist being to forward the story of The Pick of Destiny. If the movie didn’t exist, you’d have to look at this as a pretty awful concept album (but then there are very few concept albums that aren’t pretty awful).
It’s not all bad though. There are several moments that are genuinely funny, and brilliant musically (which is quite important when you are the self proclaimed “Greatest Band in The World).
The story of Tenacious D becoming the greatest band in the world by finding The Pick Of Destiny starts with the cleverly arranged Kickapoo. Awash with profanity (Jack Black has a way of using “fuckin'” as punctuation), it starts life as a no-brainer rock song before Meat Loaf and Ronnie James Dio join the action, at which point it continues life as a no-brainer rock song in the style of Honky Tonk Women getting it on with Judas Priest. As a send up of the goblin fearing ’70s rock it works perfectly, and it is in these moments that Tenacious D are at their best. They may be taking the piss but they do it with a huge amount of affection rather than malice.
Master Exploder finds Jack Black boasting that he doesn’t need a microphone because his voice is so fuckin’ huge. Which to be fair it is. Had he been born a few years earlier he would probably have been squeezed into spandex, fighting with dragons on stage whilst belting out a melodramatic falsetto to a rock version of Beethoven’s Ninth.
The mix of folk and metal that is Tenacious D’s sound veers distinctly towards the folk side on Papagenu (He’s My Sassafrass) as pan pipes lead the way on this unusual tale of man sasquatch love.
BUT – fear not metal heads, because the metal is back for Break In City, and Chase City. Metal they may be, but they are also entirely disposable filler. Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown) is a work of genius however, being a five minute epic that changes mood and tempo continually whilst telling the story of the rock-off between The D and The Devil. It of course features the words “cock” and “fuck” in large quantities, as well as some mighty riffs and drumming from Dave Grohl. It may well be the only song on the album that rivals the likes of Wonderboy or Tribute from the first album.
The Pick of Destiny feels like a bit of a missed opportunity with only two or three songs really standing on their own while the others feel far too much like plot devices, which of course is exactly what they are.
When they’re on form Tenacious D can count themselves alongside the likes of The Rutles, Spinal Tap, and A Mighty Wind, in terms of parody. However, this album does little to suggest that they found The Pick Of Destiny, as this soundtrack rarely sounds as if it was made by the greatest band in the world.