How heavy metal music can actually be good for you

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Although you might not think it, heavy metal music is not all that bad. A lot of people consider ‘heavy metal’ music to be bad, evil stuff that will turn you into a blood drinking devil worshipper, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve listened to metal music since I was fairly young, about 12 or so. I was listening to the new Slayer album, World Painted Blood, the other day and got to thinking about what it is that people like about metal. I’m pretty sure that most people don’t listen to it for the lyrics, because a lot of the time they are pretty terrible. On the surface metal bands often sing about death, destruction, evil, hurt and pain and all the ‘bad things’. (not all metal bands, but many of them)  Sure, there’s probably a few weirdos out there who actually like death, destruction, and evil, but I’ve never met a person who truly liked those things, and I’ve met a lot of metal-heads. The music, or ‘noise’ as parents around the world would say, is one reason most people like metal. It’s fast, heavy, and distorted, and often has amazing guitar solos that some people really like, especially when in certain moods. Hmm… Certain moods?

People will often put on some metal when they’re frustrated or angry. I don’t know many people who put on Slayer or Mastodon when they feel like dancing. That’s because metal can provide a release of those negative emotions. One minute you are fuming mad and before you know it you’re bouncing your head and feeling connected with the music. That’s because the people who wrote the music were probably feeling frustrated or angry when they wrote the song. They were using the song to release their negative emotions when they wrote it, and that’s the entire reason for the music to exist in many cases. That’s the entire function of many heavy metal songs and the bands that write them. And that’s why the music offers that release to people who are listening as well. Of course you don’t always put on metal music because you’re angry. When I was listening to the Slayer album and thinking about this whole thing I had just put the album on to hear it because it’s new, but I think that a big reason that a lot of people enjoy metal is because it offers that release. It takes their awareness off of how frustrated they are and focuses it on enjoying the fast paced, angry music. Sure, on the surface the song Hate Worldwide may sound like Slayer is trying to spread hate around the world, but are they really spreading hate? Or are they spreading a release of hate? I think it’s the latter.

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12 Comments

  1. Matt said,

    November 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Great article, you perfectly outlined one of the many reasons I personally listen to Metal. Though for me, the main reason I listen to it is for the sophistication in the music. Not sure about anyone else, but listening to those double bass drums going full speed underneath an amazing guitar solo, while still being musically artistic in the different tempos and time signatures used.

    Rock on fellow Metal-heads

  2. Whit said,

    November 17, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Not talking about hate does not make it go away, only consuming media that is about happy fluffy bunnies does not deal with it. Leaving something to be taboo and unspoken only gives it more power.
    Metal can be a safe expression of feelings that we are all taught to repress as much as possible, it allows you to feel angry and aggressive and strong, in the end giving you a catharsis of those feelings.

  3. Derek said,

    November 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Personally, I do listen to the lyrics. In a lot of cases they are bad but the one thing ive noticed between all metal bands (this does not include metalcore unfortunately) is regardless what they’re singing about, there is a constant theme, a kindof philosophy if you will. the philosophy that no one is more powerful than you. And if you desire something, you can achieve it if you set your mind to it. Metal teaches to stand up for what you believe in, whether it be violent murder, satan, or whatever. For me, metal is a cathartic experience, as well as a strengthening excercise.

    LONG LIVE METAL \m/,

  4. Kudos said,

    November 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Actually while I agree with your points, I tend to also listen to metal when I’m happy just more melodic stuff and sometimes when I’m bored I listen to it to motivate myself as while in many cases the lyrics are considered negative, in a good number of cases it’s about dealing with a negative situation which in itself is inspiring.

    Good blog and it’s actually supported by study that says many smart students listen to metal as a catharsis.
    ref: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070321130834.htm

  5. jonny said,

    November 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    more difficult to listen to/complex music forces our brains to organise the sound into something more understandable, releasing dopamine as a reward. If it can’t then the music is just annoying. Explains why some people can appreciate the more abrasive music and shit, and some just find it annoying.

  6. Willy said,

    November 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Well that, and all the good metal bands have talent beyond about 99% of bands in other genres, and if you really listen to the lyrics in a lot of metal (not all, granted), it can be very genius and a bit poetic.

  7. that guy said,

    November 17, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    really good points i agree with just about all of them i just think you left out that another reason for listening to metal is that when you hear a song with crazy guitar awesome drums and all that stuff that makes metal so good, it just makes you feel bad ass and makes you feel like you can do anything.

  8. Isa said,

    November 17, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Some metal bands do write very beautiful, poetic lyrics. On the other hand, yeah, some are terrible. Sometimes it’s a cheesy, awesome kind of terrible… sometimes it’s God Dethroned terrible. You know, the kind of terrible that makes average people curse God for allowing human communication to exist.

    ANYWAY. I don’t only listen to metal as a way of releasing aggression, or whatever. I listen to it because of the complexity, the challenging nature, of the music (as a musician I am frequently impressed by metal artists’ skill and talent), the atmospheres created, the fact that it often actually discusses issues like politics, religious oppression, etc. Metal is not afraid to be honest and outspoken.

    Finally, too, I love metal for the sheer range of emotion that’s evoked. A lot of it’s so-called ‘negative’ emotion–anger, sorrow, hate, melancholy–but it can be very beautiful.

  9. musicmaster said,

    November 17, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I think that only those with average IQ or above are able to listen heavy metal or some other, groovy & speedy metal genre.
    Regarding lyrics and heavy metal, heavy sound, heavy genre.. clawfinger simply beats the score. They’re number one.

  10. Moji said,

    November 17, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Yeah, I have to say that I worry about the kind of person that primarily listens to metal only when they’re angry. That seems like a violent man indeed.

    Metal music doesn’t make me angry. It doesn’t help me when I’m angry. I also have a hard time believing that metal bands are angry 100% of the time that they write music.

    Personally, I listen to metal when I’m in a good mood. It helps me to relax, or makes me excited (but not angry) depending on what I want to reap from listening. I enjoy metal musically, not so much emotionally.The people that listen to metal primarily when they’re angry? Ehhh… Columbine? Maybe that’s going a bit far, but I think you see my point. Some people just shouldn’t listen to certain music.

  11. Alfredo said,

    November 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    The world fears what they don’t understand. Heavy metal usually hits all those taboo topics head on. That’s why I love it.

    Great post.

  12. The Klepto said,

    November 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    I don’t know man some of the lyrics to these songs are pretty bad-ass. I don’t listen to alot of Thrash, and almost no Death or New Wave of American Heavy Metal (Mastadon or Lamb of God), so maybe we’re talking about different things. I like more laid back music (read: understandable) but still get into the depressive death/doom/anger feel, mostly with Doom metal. I prefer the sound of drudging bass and guitar and mournful vocals and lyrics to blast-beats any day.
    One genre that I love, but that has complete crap lyrics, is Power Metal. All the songs and bands are the same, they sing about how awesome they are and how awesome heavy metal is, and how awesome wizards and swords are. It’s all cheezy and over the top, but it all kicks ass. That is really the only genre that I can honestly say I listen to more for the music then the lyrics.
    Other genres like stoner and progressive all seem to revolve around the lyrics, playing some deeper meaning. And bands within post-metal use lyrics (if they have them at all) as more of an added instrument, less as a focal point.
    I do agree that metal needs to be listened in certain moods, I don’t put it on late at night before bed, but I do like it when I am mad, sad or happy. It’s my neutral sound, there’s a genre for any mood, any time. You just gotta search.


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