Heavy Metal Helps
“Heavy metal music is about shutting out the tensions of life, putting it away.” Peter Tork, bassist for The Monkees, made this statement when asked about how important heavy metal was. Peter Tork, though an early rock musician, has much appreciation for heavy metal and the positives the genre has to offer. Heavy metal has gotten a bad reputation because of various assumptions, such as that it is strictly for satan worshippers and serial killers. Also, subgenre names such as Thrash metal, Death metal, and Black metal sound like music that is just loud music and angry vocals. Those genres do encompass those characteristics, but there is so much more to the music. A closer look under the surface of the music shows lyrics that many troubled people can relate to and an aggressive sound that can help people vent frustration and depression.
Heavy metal is a highly amplified harsh-sounding, violent therapeutic genre of music. Due to it being harsh and aggressive, the music diffuses the anger in its listeners. At Loyola University in New Orleans, an experiment was done by to see if there was a link between Heavy Metal and aggressive tendencies. After listening to metal, the participants who had been tested with the non-heavy songs scored higher on the depression inventory than participants who had been tested with the heavy songs. Heavy metal helps take the edge off. Another study done by Jeffrey Arnett at the high point of metal in the late 80s and early 90s showed many young adults used heavy metal as a way to cope with being bullied at school or with family issues. Many of the young adults interviewed claimed that if they did not have heavy metal to calm them down, they could have done something they would later come to regret. Heavy metal was also a way to help guys deal with rejection of girls because of the lyrics in many metal songs dealing with a similar rejection.
Heavy metal is a type of therapy for people who could not tell their troubles to a proper therapist. Whether they are too stubborn or too egocentric to go to therapy, heavy metal is a great way to vent and relieve tension. Also, many people do not want to come to the realization that they are depressed or too stressed out. Heavy metal is a way to subconsciously help their depression. Heavy metal provides people a way to vent their feelings and brighten their day up. A study done by The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth at the University of Warwick surveyed more than 1,000 gifted students aged 11-18 and found that heavy metal provides cathartic release and a way to dissipate negative emotions. Many smart kids are picked on in school and heavy metal provides a way for them to eradicate any violent retaliation feelings they may posses.
Music is a reflection of what is going on in someone’s heart. Heavy metal is the purest form of music. Some issues that many people have to deal with, such as death, anger, fear, illness, sex, repressed weakness, and shortcomings are all issues portrayed in metal songs. People burdened with issues such as depression love to hear about other people going through similar things so they don’t have to feel alone. Heavy metal musicians usually come from a bad background. Dave Mustaine, lead singer and guitarist of Megadeth, lived with only his mother and resorted to doing drugs due to depression. By the young age of 17, he lived in a one-room apartment alone making minimum wage at a record store. Mustaine learned of heavy metal while he worked in a music store and it helped him deal with the hardships of his life. Ozzy Osbourne, lead singer of Black Sabbath, grew up dealing with dyslexia and many other learning disabilities. He left school at the age of 15 because he did not want believe learning was important, so he went to find menial jobs to do such as construction, and even decided to try burglary. Osbourne was picked on as a child because of his various disabilities. Known now as the Prince of Darkness, Osbourne helped forge what was to be known as the heavy metal sound. Whether people are bullied, depressed, or too stressed out, there are metal musicians out there that can relate to them and who write music about it.
Heavy metal is considered the genre of music that is very aggressive, satanic, and has no positive message. Heavy metal is the genre that has saved countless lives. By easily relating to the general population and basic hardships that everyone goes through, such as breakups and death, it is the most relatable genre of music. Unlike in pop music, every hardship can be found in the lyrics of metal songs. Heavy metal is also a very broad term. Whether the listener prefers the softer metal bands such as Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, or the harder metal bands such as Pantera and Death, many of the messages portrayed in the songs are similar. In “Altering the Future” by Death, the man in the song is plagued with an awful life and a dim future. “Creating a life only to destroy, Saved from a life of the unemployed, Where crime is the only way to survive, Which is the best to be dead or alive?” The man has no hope for a good future. In “Good Times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin, the man in the song talks about growing up and having a bad future when he can’t become the person he wants to be and can’t have the things he wants. In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man, Now I’ve reached that age, I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can. No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam.” The man in the song keeps getting into the same old “jam” and can’t seem to do things right. Since metal has evolved so much over the years, people tend to think of the heaviest metal they can think of as what heavy metal truly is. Heavy metal is such a broad term, but its message across all subgenres of it is the same. Heavy metal helps the listener cope with the hardships of everyday life. It is therapy in the purest sense.
Arnett, Jeffrey. Adolescents and Heavy Metal Music : From the Mouths of Metalheads. 1991. http://yas.sagepub.com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/content/23/1/76.full.pdf+html
Cadwallader, Stuart. Heavy Metal a “Comfort for the Brain Child.” 2007. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3352230/Heavy-metal-a-comfort-for-the-bright-child.html
Coss, Shaleen. The Effects of Heavy Metal Music on Aggression in College Students. 2009. http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/209.php