Brutal Legend is a wondrous, creative video game that feels like Conan the Barbarian meets This Is Spinal Tap. Which means you kill a lot of monsters on a fantasy planet of Nordic ruins, megaliths and Stonehenge replicas - by playing heavy metal music on your flying-V guitar.
You portray the world's greatest band roadie, Eddie (voiced by Jack Black), who falls into this ancient, parallel world, where an oppressive race of uglies has enslaved headbangers (the heavy metal variety) and other humans.
Your mission is to behead and slash these evil baddies with a big battle ax, and to pull that flying-V guitar off your back and hit a few licks - the rocking sounds of which make their evil faces melt, spontaneous combust and otherwise perish due to righteous rawk.
You are variously accompanied by characters who look like and are voiced by Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford and Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead; baddies are voiced by Tim Curry and Judas Priest's Rob Halford, among others.
This is not stunt casting. Kilmister is great. Ozzy is great. You can understand every word Ozzy says, which is a small miracle. And this is probably Jack Black's best work since High Fidelity.
The action is nonstop and tongue-in-cheek. At one point, an ally named Ophelia becomes jealous of your hot rod car and your skull-and-bones motorcycle. So she pulls a motorcycle engine out of a mechanical boar's spine to build her own bike. Yes, for some reason, boars on this planet have motorcycle engines for spines.
At another point, Ophelia is injured, then brought back to life by the Motörhead singer's healing power, summoned by strumming a metal bass guitar.
The hard-working genius behind Brutal Legend is a video game designer named Tim Schafer. He previously developed or co-developed The Secret of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango for LucasArts, then founded Double Fine Productions, where he made Psychonauts. These were much-acclaimed, award-winning games.
But Brutal Legend is what he was born to create. The comedy is sweet and frequent. At the beginning, Eddie slays loads of evil monks, whose hooded faces you can't see. Then someone in an evil-monk outfit pulls her own hood down, and she's very pretty.
"Ah man," says Eddie. "Don't tell me I've been slaying hot girls!"
Okay, that's juvenile. But you have to let your guard down and relax. The dialogue works as a satire of metal and its "Girls, Girls, Girls" culture, but it also works as a loving embrace of metal, and as top-gear writing.
There are miles and miles of world to explore here. The online multiplayer is odd in a good way. All the while, you hear 108 heavy metal songs by mainstream metal acts like Motörhead and Scorpions, but also by bands like Children of Bodom and 3 Inches of Blood.
I don't even love heavy metal. I went through that phase long ago. But Shafer has given us a beautifully crafty and fun action-adventure that makes excellent use of the mythology of heavy metal. It is, as the man said, rockin' like Dokken.