The Dangers of Heavy Metal Music

Metal music may give the impression of being all about sexual exploitation and smoking weed, but this is far from accurate.

Lindsay Bishop from UCL conducted research which suggests that metal fans are far more diverse than previously imagined. On average, one third of them are female fans from marginalised communities, according to this analysis.

1. Headbanging

Music fans who head bang while listening to metal are at a risk for injury. Although no formal studies have been conducted into this worldwide trend, many young people at concerts often report feeling dazed and disoriented – symptoms which could indicate mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs). Anecdotal reports of neck injuries also occur frequently while head banging can also cause whiplash or short-term headaches. Heavy metal music often features various styles of head banging such as circular swinging of the head or up and down movements for head banging performances – each style contributing its own unique styles of head banging which may cause mild traumatic brain injuries as well.

Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, two early heavy metal bands, rewrote the rules of rock music through their use of distortion, amplified guitar sounds, and dark and evil sounds. Similar elements were employed by progressive rock acts Emerson Lake & Palmer and Yes, while psychedelic rock proved that musical concepts could be translated verbally – such as undulating melodies to represent sea water.

In the late 1970s, heavy metal bands like Def Leppard and Iron Maiden catapulted to international stardom. This “new wave of British heavy metal” featured distinctive clothing to identify its members; later bands like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue boosted its popularity further through their use of glam styling and extravagant ensembles.

Some critics argue that heavy metal music glorifies darkness, evil, power and the end times; in stark contrast to its hippie-era messages of peace and love. Others suggest it evolved out of an underground counterculture where light gave way to darkness while happiness gave way to reality.

2. Violent Behavior

Heavy metal music often features dark tones, distorted guitar tones and dissonant chords; exploring unpleasant aspects of life such as death, darkness, evil and power through lyrics depicting violence and depictions of violent behavior in its lyrics. Some have accused this genre of glorifying violence while some researchers have linked heavy metal with externalizing behaviors like aggression, delinquency and disrespect towards society norms and women; although these links do not necessarily indicate causation.

Metal music’s aggressive nature and lyrics have led to claims that its listeners engage in violent behaviors. Studies conducted with heavy metal fans indicate they may be more likely to engage in externalising behaviors than non-fans; one research project using self-report measures found male and female metal fans had higher trait sensation seeking levels, more frequently speeded, had drunk driving incidents, or engaged in casual sex than non-metal fans.

Studies have also suggested that violent lyrics in some metal songs may increase risk for suicide among adolescents, although this connection was made based on availability heuristics; meaning people judge how easily something comes to mind when considering its likelihood. Further clinical population research needs to take place before we can know for certain whether this effect exists.

Metal music provides many metal fans an emotional release for their anger. Connecting to fellow fans creates a strong sense of community and belonging. Research suggests that long-time metal fans tend to be happier in middle age compared to nonfans; this may suggest the music helps them cope with difficult events while teaching coping skills.

3. Drug Abuse

Heavy metal music has long been associated with drug abuse, particularly hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. This may be related to heavy metal’s origins in blues rock music which often addresses themes of depression and loss; as well as an escape-from-reality fantasy aspect through lyrics about darkness, evil, and power. Furthermore, many heavy metal bands have added musical elements commonly found in horror films (Black Sabbath named themselves after British steel industry as they created music filled with distortion and sinister undertones).

However, due to its correlational nature, research on heavy metal music can be challenging in drawing causal inferences. Most studies rely on self-reports which don’t account for other potential influences that could skew results; yet it may be that people who enjoy listening to heavy metal music may already have existing psychological difficulties that provide comfort from its genre.

Other studies have explored the relationship between heavy metal music and externalising behaviors like aggression and delinquency, as well as internalising ones such as depression and anxiety, including self-report measures that assess personality traits and problem behaviors among fans and non-fans of heavy metal music. Results have shown that both male and female metal fans are more likely to engage in risky activities such as speeding, drinking driving, casual sex encounters and substance use than non-fans.

Metal music listeners are also more likely to report using illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine due to its aggressive themes or its association with horror movies, as well as having lower self-esteem levels and increased trait sensation seeking. As such, certain mental health and correctional institutions have restricted access to heavy metal music.

4. Anxiety

Studies on heavy metal music with aggressive themes have been said to increase anger, aggression, antisocial behavior and suicidal thoughts among both community and psychiatric populations over time. Unfortunately, studies assessing this relationship typically rely on correlational data which makes causal inferences difficult (C. Baker & Brown 2016; F. Baker & Bor 2008; McFerran 2016).

Heavy metal music and its fans are particularly susceptible to criticism. While popular pop music typically portrays life in a positive light, metal often conjures images of darkness and death which may give rise to accusations that metal glorifies violence or is inherently aggressive.

While metal music may provide strength for some listeners, others may struggle with its emotionally intense lyrics and find it hard to relate to its emotional intensity. Some individuals may experience feelings of depression while listening to metal music which could impact daily activities and decrease happiness levels – in these instances it is wise to consult a mental health professional.

Heavy metal fans may become desensitised to its violent and aggressive themes, leading them to feel indifferent towards societal problems, leading to low self-esteem, drug use and feelings of alienation.

Metal can still provide an emotional release for many individuals despite its risks, studies have demonstrated this effect. When listeners compare to non-listeners when exposed to classical music, heavy metal or sitting silently following stressors they show decreased heart rate, respiration rate and anxiety levels compared with listeners exposed to other genres such as classical. Heavy metal’s unique blend of lower pitch, distortion and tempo create a deeper bassier sound than other genres making listening an experience in itself.

5. Depression

Heavy metal music has often been blamed for everything from aggression, drug use, suicide and delinquency to delinquency and depression. These accusations arise due to its harsh sounds, offensive lyrics with religious undertones or violence-themed verses; yet studies have proven otherwise and that heavy metal has positive mental health benefits for its fans.

Although some lyrical themes of metal music may depict aggression, violence, and misogyny, it’s essential to distinguish between anger and aggressiveness. Anger is an emotion while aggressiveness is behavior – typically, people listening to metal music feel angry but this does not need to be considered negative.

Heavy metal music provides its fans with a source of catharsis through its heaviness. Over time, heavyness became a distinguishing characteristic and bands created their own distinct identities within the industry – many becoming successful internationally-known acts like Judas Priest during this era.

Studies examining heavy metal music may link to increased suicide risk or desensitisation to violence; however, these studies often fail to take into account other external influences which could potentially have an impact. Lindsay Bishop from UCL recently conducted research that showed how, contrary to popular perception, metal fans tend to consist of on average one-third female fans and that gigs attract families, older adults and people with Disabilities. Study of magazine subscriptions as a proxy for heavy metal listening preferences revealed that suicidal behavior among adolescents who read rock/heavy metal magazines was actually lower – likely owing to feeling part of an allegiant group who shared these interests.