Music has long been used as an expressive outlet by those on the autism spectrum to communicate, express themselves, and explore their creativity.
Though often misperceived as having negative connotations, new research shows heavy metal music may help enhance mental wellbeing for its listeners. According to their studies, heavy metal fans were happier in their youth and better adjusted at middle age compared with non-fans.
Heavy metal music emerged during the late 1970s and is distinguished by high levels of distortion and an aggressive amplified guitar tone. An offshoot of rock music, heavy metal has endured for more than four decades with many bands still touring today.
Heavy metal music often contains images and visuals designed to heighten the listening experience, such as video clips or album covers featuring visual imagery.
Heavy metal song lyrics tend to focus on darker themes that deal with fear, mistrust, paranoia, anger or sadness – as evidenced by songs by bands like MegaDeth, Black Sabbath or Slayer.
Music of this genre often incorporates elements from various musical genres, such as rock, blues and psychedelic rock. Bands within this genre often use blues scales and arrangements along with various instrumental techniques like distorted guitar solos to achieve its sound.
In the 1970s, British metal bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath pioneered heavy metal by incorporating elements of psychedelic rock music. Together with heavy distortion and aggressive amplified amplifiers, this style became known as “heavy metal”.
Deep Purple was one of the most successful bands during this era. Their guitarist Ritchie Blackmore became particularly well-known for his unique, neoclassical approach to guitar playing.
He inspired many heavy metal guitarists who followed in his footsteps; typically men, though more women are playing heavy metal these days.
Some female metal musicians have taken to this style with gusto. Singer Jennifer Neely from progressive rock band King Crimson is one such musician. She self-identifies as autistic and has released multiple metal songs about its challenges.
Recent years have witnessed an increased focus on mental health within metal music culture, prompting much research into its impact on fans with mental health disorders or developmental disabilities. Studies conducted reveal that fans diagnosed with such diagnoses tend to prefer listening to metal over non-fans; additionally they tend to form stronger connections among themselves than with non-diagnosed peers.
Music can be an invaluable aid for individuals living with autism. They use music to communicate, express themselves, and cultivate creativity while gaining social inclusion according to research published in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Music can be difficult for many; those living with autism find it particularly daunting. In the video below, three boys with autism and their mentor discuss how they created their own band and what it means to them.
Autism-afflicted musicians can experience feelings of isolation and depression due to being unable to form bonds with other people, so music therapy may provide one outlet that helps these kids overcome these emotions.
The AutistiX are a UK rock band composed of three individuals living with autism who share a love of music. Their sound draws its inspiration from classic garage rock bands like Nirvana, The Clash, and The Rolling Stones.
Their music may be loud and heavy, yet its message focuses on inclusion – making them an excellent example of how music can promote social integration and awareness. They are supported by Jim Connelly as mentor/manager as well as two of the boys’ fathers.
These musicians offer an innovative yet approachable sound, which is both experimental and immensely accessible. Reminiscent of bands like Nirvana but without being typical garage bands.
As a result, The AutistiX are able to reach a wide audience and dispel stigma surrounding autism. Their performances can be found at festivals, schools and colleges throughout the U.K. They even collaborated on tours with Motxila 21 – an ensemble composed of people living with Down’s Syndrome.
Their mission is to “inspire, educate and provide opportunities for those on the spectrum and those living with autism by creating an unique, diverse, and inclusive community that welcomes all”. This message has already made an impactful statement about autism awareness – as has this band!
Susan Zur-Szpiro was searching for creative outlets for her son with autism. She found just the perfect combination in a rock band; his love of music combined with unique skills was the ideal fit, she felt it would help him succeed; little did she expect that their efforts would become so popular worldwide!
Dan Spitz & Dave Mustaine
Anthrax were titans of thrash metal for over a decade, yet their high-octane lifestyle often took its toll. Booze and drugs fuelling Anthrax partying often left members feeling empty inside and disconnected with themselves and life itself, making day-to-day existence increasingly challenging for each member.
Spirituality and an optimistic perspective became essential components of their coping with their condition, such as Dan Spitz from Anthrax who recently co-founded Red Lamb with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth.
“Puzzle Box,” co-produced and co-written by Mustaine, tackles an unusual subject for metal music – autism in children. This song stands as a testament to how musicians from across genres can unite to raise awareness for critical social issues.
Dan Spitz was at the forefront of thrash metal for over a decade as lead guitarist of Anthrax. Touring all around the globe and selling millions of records, he eventually decided to leave to pursue watchmaking as a passion.
Not only did his departure from Anthrax offer him time off the road, but it allowed him to devote himself fully to both family and music. While taking a short respite period from performing, he attended the Bulova School of Watchmaking in New York before moving on to train at WOSTEP (Wostep School of Watchmaking Education Program in Switzerland).
At last, he learned the art of designing and maintaining luxury watches, creating his own line under his name. Though it differs considerably from Anthrax’s thrash metal sound, he found a niche within metal community again with this endeavor.
Red Lamb was formed when guitarist Wade Black (CRIMSON GLORY), bassist Peter Baltes from ACCEPT and drummer Patrick Johansson from YNGWIE MALMSTEEN joined forces. Red Lamb released its debut album via iTunes in February 2019.
John Walsh is an Irish singer/songwriter known for his heavy metal music. His songs have often been described as intensely personal or “songs that read like paintings”, similar to other artists such as Jason Isbell or Lucy Kaplansky.
Songwriting has always been one of his talents, and since he was a teenager he has been creating songs. In his music he blends elements of history with rock and roll; writing about experiences as both an American and Irishman while also often covering emotions such as love and loss in his songs.
Musically, his music has often been compared to that of bands like Metallica and Queen, yet he strives to keep his style as distinctive as possible. His songs are full of emotion, easy to sing along to and are often called upon for live performances without backing musicians or backing vocals.
The musician not only devotes his attention to music, but he’s also actively engaged in volunteering and helping others. He founded VetsAid – an organization which brings musicians together to perform for veterans – as well as being part of Santa Cruz Island Foundation, which specializes in protecting its environment on Santa Cruz Island.
Remembering autism as a lifelong condition is vitally important. There are still people living with this condition today – some have become well-known figures while others struggle daily with living normal lives despite having autism.
Craig Nicholls was the lead vocalist of a band that achieved great fame during the 2000s. Nicholls’ unpredictable behavior and sensory overload caused various problems for himself and others; it wasn’t until receiving his diagnosis that he finally understood what was occurring.
Nicholls made an attempt to combine his musical talent and autism. Additionally, he launched a campaign to raise awareness and highlight autistic musicians.
He is also an advocate for Autism Speaks and has served on their board of directors since 2009. Additionally, he founded an autism-oriented website to provide people with autism an introduction to music industry fundamentals.