For decades, rock junkies and music historians have been debating the roots of heavy metal.
Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, two of the most influential bands in modern music history, are both seen as big-time contributors to the genre. But the arguments go back and forth as to which band can really be given the credit for being the godfather of rock. The debate is now being carried on in UVSC’s own English department.
Heavy metal enthusiasts and English majors alike gathered to hear professor Steven Fullmer discuss the literary themes, storytelling style and intricacies in the music of the founders of heavy metal.
The class is part of a series of lectures on Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin that is being held in the Gunther Trades building, room 618b, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until April 4.
Professor Fullmer, a self-proclaimed fan of heavy metal, said he wanted to teach this class because it was important for the students to see bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin from a literary context.
"They’re very misunderstood," said professor Fullmer, referring particularly to Black Sabbath’s reputation as being a devil-worshiping group. "People see them as kind of a satanic band, but they were actually anti-satanic. … Their lyrics are against those things."
Students in the class study lyrical themes, guitar technique, album structure, listen to a lot of music in and out of class. Their textbook for the class is a Black Sabbath biography, and they are required to have a copy of the first eight Black Sabbath albums.
Students also enjoy professor Fullmer’s love and knowledge for the subject, as well.
"It’s real great to have someone who is so passionate about the subject," said Brian Williamson, an English major and Black Sabbath fan. Another student, Dan Kroc, said that he likes learning about the parallels professor Fullmer draws between the songs and albums discussed in class.
The lecture series is part of a continuing program in the English department known as "Rebellion in Literature." This program focuses on literature that is out of the ordinary for its time. In the past, the series has focused on everything from Macbeth to Jim Morrison.
Right now the department is doing a series on religious rebellion, and professor Fullmer just finished a lecture series on the LDS prophet, Joseph Smith.
To professor Fullmer, Black Sabbath is another form of literary rebellion in the religious world but from a different perspective.
"They are the founders of heavy metal," professor Fullmer said.
While it might not end the long-standing debate, at least his class just might cause more people to look at heavy metal as literature to be valued, and not just loud music.