It might sound contradictory, but getting caught up in heavy metal music might actually be good for your head.
Listening to heavy metal and ‘extreme’ –read, very, very loud– music can help purge negative emotions, such as anger and depression, according to a 2015 study.
Thirty-nine heavy metal fans were monitored after a 16-minute ‘anger induction’, where they described topics that would irritate, such as relationship issues or financial problems. Each person would then spend 10 minutes listening to songs of their choice, followed by 10 minutes of silence.
Far from sparking rage as it often claimed to do, heavy metal actually left study participants feeling calmer – and was just as effective as sitting in silence.
Leah Sharman from the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology said of the study:
When you’re angry and you listen to something that’s highly arousing, it’s going to match your emotional state.
Likewise, a 2018 study concluded that heavy metal communities alleviate mental health issues.
Researchers chatted to 28 young people who identified with metal music.
Some themes in the group, who were all aged 18-24, stood out: they were all bullied or marginalized at school, but the heavy metal identity and community helped them find friends and keep bullies at bay.
The researchers concluded:
By talking repeatedly, directly with young metalheads, it was found that metal identities were helping participants to survive the stress of challenging environments and build strong and sustained identities and communities, thus alleviating any potential mental health issues.
Though just in case you get too enthusiastic about these wonderful findings, do be careful while headbanging.
We get it. Sometimes you lose yourself in the music – but it can cause headaches and dizziness.
Some people know that heavy metal can help your mental health firsthand.
Liam Frost-Camilleri, organizer of charity metal gig Beyond Black, says mental health comes up often in conversations within the community.
He told ABC that the heavy metal community can offer relief and support when it comes to mental health problems.
I was amazed at how often once one person started talking about it, another person would start talking about it.
It seemed to be a pretty big problem amongst musicians in particular, in the heavy metal genre.
I think the reason why people with anxiety and depression tend to gravitate towards heavy metal is because of the catharsis of the emotion.