10 Best Rock Songs From Brutal Legend

10 Best Rock Songs From Brutal Legend

Feature Photo: MPH Photos / Shutterstock.com

Speaking as a fan who used to play Brutal Legend all the time, the 10 best rock songs from that video game weren’t an easy choice to make. Do I go with the 107 classic hard rock and metal songs that came with the game or do I go with the twenty originals belonging to the game’s official soundtrack? The twenty featured in the game and the soundtrack were composed by Peter McConnell. In all honesty, I found every single one of those songs absolutely awesome. The man is a musical genius and I am so grateful that Tim Schafer had the vision to work with his longtime collaborator. The musical material put together by McConnell is so amazing that I still listen to the Brutal Legend Soundtrack with as much enthusiasm now as I did when it was first released in 2009. If you want a fantastic instrumental rock experience, I highly recommend you get your hands on the Brutal Legend soundtrack. I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

Brutal Legend Songs

The 107

In order to access all 107 songs in Brutal Legend, I had to play the game in its entirety. Speaking as a fan of hard rock and heavy metal music, to begin with, I already had access to most of the songs anyway with my own collection. However, that wasn’t the point. In the game, I became a roadie named Eddie Riggs, taking on all the dastardly villains who threatened to mess with my favorite musical genre. I welcomed the challenge with the Xbox 360 joystick in my hand, ready to beat up anyone who had the nerve to tell me heavy metal sucked. As soon as I unlocked the first Motor Forge, the Guardian of Metal granted me the Mouth of Metal. This played each of the songs that I managed to unlock as a gamer. In single-player mode, I could unlock the songs in two ways. They were completing the missions and raising Buried Metal with a guitar solo performed on the Relic Raiser. In multiplayer, we competed in stage battles according to a faction’s allegiance. The songs playing on the Megastage could be changed by double-teaming with it.

I recall almost ending up in divorce court because my hubby was jealous of how much time and effort I poured into Brutal Legend. The game was released in October 2009, which was after a few months he and I became a couple. We were both gamers and both jumped on Brutal Legend with our own Xbox 360 consoles. This is when I realized I was the real rocker between the two of us as he was more interested in first-person shooters than rockin’ out the competition like a warrior. However, in his defense, Brutal Legend’s gameplay did meet with some frustrating flaws. We did eventually unlock all the songs. We also both hoped (maybe me more so than him) for a Brutal Legend 2 but that never happened. It almost did but EA bailed out and left Schafer and his Double Fine team in a position that nearly ruined them. There is still talk of a Brutal Legend sequel that would include all the material Schafer wasn’t able to pour into the original game.

The Legends

What made Brutal Legend so much fun for me was more than the music and the gameplay. As Eddie Riggs, my mortally wounded character was transported to a fantasy world that was laced with heavy metal influence. Upon arrival, my character is given “The Separator,” which was the broad axe designed to hack and slash the hordes of demons and the undead. There was also “Clementine,” the Flying V guitar that Eddie brought with him as a device that could cast “Solos” spells into the heavy metal realm. Helping me get around was a hot rod called “The Deuce.” The Solos were performed as brief guitar riffs in an effort to thwart the enemy. Those guitar solos were composed and recorded by two established guitar heroes, K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest. The style of these performances was similar to how Guitar Hero and Rock Bland were played. The riffs were brief because Eddie was unable to maintain his guitar to produce so much power consistently. He needed to spend Fire Tributes, an in-game currency he’d earn after completing missions. This would be spent at the Motor Forge, giving him the opportunity to access new abilities, as well as upgrade his equipment.

One of the favorite moves in the game was using the guitar to create pyrotechnics, then using the axe while the foe was in the air to finish the job. When it came to boss fights, the hot rod was needed to lure them to a spiked gate that was held up by counterweights. Once there, Eddie had to play “Earthshaker” with the guitar. As soon as the weights were destroyed, everything would come crashing down and cut off the enemy’s head. Yeah, sounds graphic, but the game was ridiculously fun. It was especially entertaining for me to learn the Guardian of Metal was voiced by Ozzy Osbourne.

Aside from the twenty-three main missions, there were also thirty optional side missions. The side missions were either racing against another demon as Eddie defended his allies from an attack or used a cannon operator to spot and destroy enemy targets. Based on an open-world environment, Eddie also had the opportunity to find a bunch of statues that were either tied up in leather or chains. Upon doing so, more of the game’s backstory would be revealed. In order to unlock songs in the game, monuments needed to be found and raised. Once unlocked, the song became available through the game’s heavy metal station, The Mouth of Metal. These songs could be selected from Eddie’s hot rod. For me, the fun was being able to customize the list according to my preferences.

The Legends Behind Brutal Legend

Eddie Riggs was voiced by Jack Black, the world’s best roadie working for the world’s worst heavy metal group, Kabbage Boy. The game’s main antagonist was Doiculus, Emperor of the Tainted Coil. This was voiced by one of my favorite actors of all time, Tim Curry. His assistant, General Lionwhite, was voiced by Rob Halford. If you’re a play-on-words type of person, Lionwhite is an allusion to the glam metal band, White Lion. The voices behind the collection of key characters came from an ensemble cast of actors and music stars that are genuine legends themselves. This includes Lita Ford, Jennifer Hale, Zach Hanks, Lemmy Kilmister, and Kath Soucie. Then, of course, there’s Ozzy Osbourne as the Guardian of Metal. When I played Brutal Legend after it was first released, I felt Osbourne was absolutely perfect for the role. I still think that today. I also thought how hysterical it was for Curry and Halford to behave like a couple of brutes that had much in common with the corporate poison I personally felt was harming the rock n’ roll industry at the time.

Getting back to the legend who made Brutal Legend happen, Tim Schafer grew up as a fan of heavy metal. Also a fan of video games, Schafer sought an opportunity to bring a game like Brutal Legend to life. It wasn’t until after the 2003 movie, School of Rock, and 2005’s game, Psychonauts, that Brutal Legend began to take shape. Along the way, Guitar Hero was created by Harmonix, which served as the missing element he needed to turn Brutal Legend from concept to reality. Although Eddie Riggs was voiced by Jack Black, the animated image of the character was fashioned after Lemmie Kilmister.

Of the 107 classics that were featured in the game, they came from the seventy-five musical legends that were involved. The music was chosen with the intent to be loved by heavy metal fans. Along with the assistance of music director Emily Ridgway, Schafer embarked on a mission to not just feature the big-name talents and their music. He relied on a person whom he regarded as a human encyclopedia when it came to finding the most appropriate music for the game. This mission brought in music from metal bands very few people knew about. Part of the challenge at the time was making sure there were no copyright violations when it came to putting the music into the game.

One by one, Double Fine reached out to every musician, gaining permission from those who agreed to it. There was an attempt to get music from AC/DC and Metallica but the licensing fees were beyond what Double Fine could afford at the time. Schafer also attempted to get Iron Maiden on board but the Eddie Riggs character felt too close to some with their mascot, Eddie, which was designed by Derek Riggs. The group’s marketing group felt Iron Maiden’s involvement would suggest they endorsed the game. Here’s hoping if there’s a Brutal Legend 2 that the music from these legendary stars will grace the game as a legendary experience for the ages.

10 Best Rocks Songs from Brutal Legend

#10 – We Are the Road Crew (performed by Motorhead)

Considering Brutal Legend’s main protagonist was a roadie named Eddie Riggs, “We Are the Road Crew” by Motorhead served as the character’s own anthem. The song was written by Lemmy Kilmister, the frontman of the iconic hard rock group, Motorhead. It was released in 1980, along with the album, Ace of Spades. This was a song Kilmister fondly wrote to honor his roadies, whom he felt were the best crew in the world. It only took him ten minutes to write it, sitting on a toilet at a recording studio in London.

#9 – The Metal (performed by Tenacious D)

“The Metal” was a song that proudly boasted as a musical genre that was able to defeat the enemies of other subgenres that threatened to destroy it. Not only was this song perfect for Brutal Legend, it also served as an anthem among heavy metal fans who rallied in agreement that no other genre can compare to the might of headbanging classics. The day Brutal Legend became available in October 2009 was the same time this song was able to be downloaded by music fans for another rhythm-based video game, Rock Band. It seems only fitting Jack Black of Tenacious D would have a song listed as among the best from Brutal Legend. This was the same actor who starred in 2003’s School of Rock, and the apple in Tim Schafer’s eye as the voice actor behind Eddie Riggs. “The Metal” was a song from Tenacious D’s album, The Pick of Destiny, which was released in 2006.

#8 – More than Meets the Eye (performed by Testament)

Speaking as a gamer who couldn’t seem to get enough of Brutal Legend, “More than Meets the Eye” by Testament was the “it” song that would rev me up as a player at the time. The day Brutal Legend came out in October 2009 was the same day this song became downloadable content for Rock Band. It was one of three, joining the ranks of Tenacious D’s “The Metal” and Motorhead’s “We Are the Road Crew.” “More than Meets the Eye” was released by Testament in 2008 from the album, The Formation of Damnation. This was the first album the thrash metal group produced since 2001’s First Strike Still Deadly. After “More than Meets the Eye” was featured in Brutal Legend and Rock Band, the popularity of this song spiked, as well as the album.

#7 – High Speed Dirt (performed by Megadeath)

In 1992, Megadeth released their fifth studio album, Countdown to Extinction. “High Speed Dirt” was a song from that album that made its way to the 107 song list of Brutal Legend. It perfectly matched the theme of the song, especially when Eddie Riggs was racing around in his hot rod, known as The Deuce. Although technically the song itself was about skydiving, listening to it was a great adrenaline rush. Eddie’s hot rod literally felt like a high-speed dirt experience, racing around in an open world to either mow down some demonic enemies or simply joyride as if there’s no tomorrow.

#6 – God of Thunder (performed by KISS)

Performed by Gene Simmons as the lead vocalist, KISS released “God of Thunder” in 1976 from their legendary album, Destroyer. It also became a major fan favorite among KISS fans and has been featured on many of their live albums. Several sound effects were used in this song that included audience chatter, explosions, screaming children, and zippers. The song was written by Paul Stanley, intending to sing it himself. However, it was suggested the song’s tempo be slowed down with Simmons handling the vocals instead.

“God of Thunder” has been regarded as one of the best songs coming from KISS. Although it didn’t appear on any official music charts, it has won over scores of fans worldwide. In Brutal Legend, “God of Thunder” was a perfect tune given the guitar of Eddie Riggs was shaped like a V and had an axe that behaved much like Thor’s hammer throughout the game.

#5 – Leather Rebel (performed by Judas Priest)

Released in 1990 by Judas Priest, “Leather Rebel” was one of the best songs coming from Brutal Legend that genuinely had the player feel the vibe of the game. Granted, the title track of Painkiller was the clear fan favorite overall and it was part of the game’s song list. However, “Leather Rebel” perfectly described Eddie Riggs, the roadie protagonist who was assigned to take on the enemy in a world that was threatening to put an end to classic hard rock and heavy metal as they knew it.

#4 – Children of the Grave (performed by Black Sabbath)

“Children of the Grave” by Black Sabbath perfectly suited Brutal Legend. The ambiance of the game had Eddie Riggs experience a world loaded with demons and the undead, along with members of the human race that were fighting for the survival of heavy metal music. First released in 1971 from Black Sabbath’s album, Master of Reality, this song became a cult classic among heavy metal fans. It has also been regarded as one of the group’s best songs. The song itself was an anti-war song, as well as an unofficial anthem among a fan base who were in agreement war is indeed stupid. As a song for Brutal Legend, it was fitting as the point behind the game was the revival of classic rock and heavy metal music. Of the 107 songs featured on the game’s song list, nothing screams “cult classic” like “Children of the Grave.”

#3 – Bomber (performed by Girlschool)

“Bomber” was first recorded and released as the title track in 1979 by Lemmy Kilmister and his group, Motorhead. Released as a single, it became a number thirty-four hit on the UK Singles Chart. For Kilmister, the inspiration came to him after reading a book with the same title, written by Len Deighton. The story was about the Germans bombing a British city by mistake as the military intended to reach another target. For Kilmister, it was the first time he wrote a song about war. Later, “Bomber” was jointly covered in 1981 by Girlschool and Motorhead for the EP, St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

This was the version heard by Schafer while he was in a used CD store called Aquarius Records. He was combing over musical material that would fit with Brutal Legend and its theme of using heavy metal music to slay demons and the undead. In the game, Ophelia was an ally of Eddie Riggs as the two took on the enemies in an effort to free humanity from the demise of heavy metal music. She also became the character’s love interest in the game. In a move known as Fastball Special, Ophelia was tossed into the foes, just like a bomber.

#2 – Through the Fire and Flames (performed by DragonForce)

Not only was “Through the Fire and Flames” by DragonForce a wonderful addition to Brutal Legend as an adrenaline-pumping song but also came from 2007’s Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. As is the case with most of DragonForce’s music, the lyrics were straight to the point, suggesting living through a great battle was a necessity in order to save the day. No song in Brutal Legend is as appropriate for its theme as this one. As a player, the goal is to defeat the enemy and win the game.

With “Through the Fire and Flames,” DragonForce hammered the message home with rapid guitar play as Herman Li and Sam Totman went into frenzy mode. This song was recorded and released in 2006 from the album, Inhuman Rampage. At first, it didn’t quite catch on. It wasn’t until Guitar Hero III did fans realized this was too good of a song to pass up. In that game, it was the final song to unlock, as well as the hardest for the wannabe rockers to perform.

#1 – Mr. Crowley (performed by Ozzy Osbourne)

Hey, Ozzy Osbourne hasn’t been crowned the Guardian of Metal in Brutal Legend for nothing. “Mr. Crowley” is an Ozzy classic. It starts off with an eerie keyboard solo, performed by Don Airey. He toys with the listener’s senses before Ozzy Osbourne begins singing about a certain Aleister Crowley who began to practice black magic near the end of the nineteenth century.

First released in 1980, it was a song from Ozzy Osbourne’s album, Blizzard of Ozz. Considering the realm of Brutal Legend had members of the human racing facing off against hordes of demons and the undead, Mr. Crowley perfectly fit the theme of the game. “Mr. Crowley” also became a song for players to learn via Guitar Heros World Tour after that video game was released in 2008. “Mr. Crowley” was a song that also had Randy Rhoads, one of the greatest guitar heroes of all time. It became a certified gold hit with the Recording Industry Association of America after surpassing the 500,000 copies sold mark.

Brutal Legend isn’t the only video game to feature “Mr. Crowley” in the song list. 2008’s Fallout 3 did the same, using the lyrics as part of its walkthrough of You Gotta Shoot ’em in the Head. Rock Band 3 made this song available as downloadable content on its Rock Band Network 2.0. Fans of Brutal Legend will instantly make the connection to Ozzy Osbourne From there, the connection to the legend’s iconic, “Mr. Crowley” reaches a natural conclusion this is, without doubt, one of the best songs coming from the song list of a game that became a cult classic in its own right.

10 Best Rock Songs From Brutal Legend article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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  1. Avatar Rebecca Radcliffe March 31, 2023

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