Finding good vibes in Death Metal

This post is also available in Dutch.

Death Metal music may sound dark and scary to a lot of you, but not to Metal fans! Scientifically proven, it can give them plenty of positive feelings!

Image courtesy of Pixabay (CC0 1.0).

Music exists in many forms and styles. Each music style comes with a unique set of emotions. Heavy metal is associated with what people commonly interpret as having a lot of negative emotions. Anger and fear portray the genre of Heavy Metal in general, and the subgenre of Death Metal in particular.

Introducing the extreme side of Death Metal

As the name suggests, it’s very hard to find soft topics when it comes to Death Metal. Violence, war, sexual abuse, murder, or even suicide are current themes addressed in Death Metal music (some good examples can be found in Cannibal Corpse’s seminal album Tomb of the Mutilated). Death Metal has become one of the most iconic Metal subgenres, with millions of followers across the globe. That makes many of us wonder how anyone can actually enjoy such a dark musical style.

How do metal fans comprehend Death Metal?

That’s what researchers tried to understand by asking fans and non-fans of Death Metal to listen to a playlist representative of the subgenre. After listening to some Death Metal songs, the participants filled a questionnaire from which we are able to find how they felt throughout the playlist. Based on the reactions, Death Metal fans showed less negative emotions than non-fans: Less anger, fear and tension. At the same time, fans actually showed more signs of joy, nostalgia, peace and other positive emotions.

What makes someone enjoy Death Metal?

Positive reactions toward Death Metal seem to be triggered by the desire for strong sensations. Even though the songs may appear brutal to others, they can actually lighten the mood for a dedicated fan.  Channeling a bad state of mind into a song can indeed make you feel happier.

What type of personality do Metal fans have in common?

Death Metal fans tend to be more open to new experiences and are less likely to be affected by negative moods. Dealing with such a musical experience requires special skills to manage negative environments. These skills may explain why fans seem to be in peace even when they were confronted with negative daily life scenarios.

Take-home message

It’s tricky to always agree when it comes musical taste. Our perception of music is as unique as our identity. Some people claim that exposure to violent media can lead to aggressive behavior or alcohol/drug consumption. Although there might be a connection, this wouldn’t be the case for others at all: sometimes reality is just more complex. We are a diverse bunch of humans, as we should be!

By João Guimarães edited by Annelies

Some further viewing

If you are curious, you could watch this video of Cannibal Corpse’ fans being interviewed by KONCRETE. And see how excited and happy they are about the band they are going to see. This clip was recorded moments before watching the band they worship; thus the video contains some explicit content.

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