It might be viewed by some as an onslaught on the ears, but it turns that death metal actually inspires joy instead of violence or misery.
That’s according to a new study from Macquarie University’s Professor Bill Thompson, who has spent a decade studying the emotional effects of various types of music.
Prof. Thompson and lead researcher Yanan Sun gathered 32 death metal fans alongside 48 non-fans and made them listen to either death metal or pop while viewing excessively violent images. The aim of the experiment was to show how the brain responds to violent imagery when different types of music are played.
For the pop fans, it meant listening to Pharrell Williams’ contagious earworm ‘Happy’, while the metal fans were treated to ‘Eaten’ by Swedish death metal gods Bloodbath.
While the two tunes couldn’t be more dissimilar, the study showed that pop and metal fans actually reacted in the same way – seemingly proving that death metal fans aren’t as disaffected by violence as perhaps first thought.
“If fans of violent music were desensitised to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn’t show this same bias,” said Prof. Thompson.
“The dominant emotional response to this music is joy and empowerment,” he continued.
“And I think that to listen to this music and to transform it into an empowering, beautiful experience — that’s an amazing thing.”
He added to the BBC: “If fans of violent music were desensitised to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn’t show this same bias. “But the fans showed the very same bias towards processing these violent images as those who were not fans of this music.”
And with that, we’re off to listen to Bloodbath.