Gurus Metal the Philosophy; : 'Britain's Chief Contribution to Existentialism' Claim Boffins

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Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY ZOE CHAMBERLAIN

THEY sing about witches at black masses, of the immaculate deception and of a smiling Satan; their frontman famously bit off a live bat's head.

But heavy metal heroes Black Sabbath just want to be loved, according to an eminent group of philosophers studying the Brummie band.

What's more, the Brummies come from religious backgrounds and one of them is - wait for it - a committed VEGAN.

Love and peace are not normally the first words that come to mind when thinking of Black Sabbath. But, far from the cries of destruction and evil, the band's mission has been to challenge people to live better and be happier, according to the bof-fins.

Drawing on the works of Plato and Aristotle to debate the heavy metal rockers in a book entitled Black Sabbath and Philosophy: Mastering Reality, they come to the conclusion that Ozzy Osbourne & Co are, in fact, much misunderstood.

They're sensitive souls at heart - and Britain's chief contribution to existentialism. "It is ironic that Black Sabbath has a reputation for being satanic and evil when close analysis of their lyrics reveals they are open to the question of God's existence, sensitive to the poetry of life, and full of compassion for the struggles of humanity," says philosophy teacher Liz Swan, who got a PhD at the University of North Carolina.

"This insight into the band has historically been overshadowed by their onstage persona. Ever since high school, I've been aware that Sabbath is infatuated with evil, conjuring mental images of how bad things can get on earth. So I was surprised to discover the person behind most of the band's evil-themed lyrics, bassist Geezer Butler, is a con-firmed vegan and a self-proclaimed pacifist.

"The band's lyrics reveal a deep curiosity about why human na-ture is the way it is, and a deep sensitivity to the philosophy and poetry of real life. Their overall message is that it's possible to imagine, and thus act to create a better possible reality.

They offer hope against the evil in the world, inspiring us to believe in a better reality by forcing us to imagine one."

The band members came from religious backgrounds. Tony Iommi was raised in a nominally Catholic home, Ozzy Osborne attended Church of England Sunday School and chief lyricist Geezer Butler came from an Irish Catholic family.

Apocalyptic Canadian history professor Brian Froese believes it was this blend of Christian influences, mixed with a fascination with J. …