Causal Essay – Baker

Releasing Aggression

Listening to heavy metal helps release aggression in its listeners. From the loud, distorted instruments to the screaming vocals, metal helps relieve stress and anxiety. Heavy metal has been condemned from the start of the genre due to its sound, but listening to it can help dispel negative feelings. The genre has many songs that talk about real life situations. In other genres, such as pop, the music and lyrics are very light and there is no substance to them. While heavy metal can shock and scare people because of the loudness and aggressiveness of the music, the loudness and aggressiveness are the very things that help the listeners with their issues.

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. A study done by Jeffrey Arnett at the high point of heavy 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. One young male interviewed stated, “’Trapped Under Ice’ by Metallica is seen as a metaphor for emotional distress.” The band Exodus was revered by many of the interviewees because Exodus talked about child abuse and many of the young adults went through child abuse. Heavy metal was also seen as a way to help guys deal with rejection of girls because of the lyrics in many heavy metal songs dealing with a similar rejection.

One of the most vocalized claims about heavy metal music is that it makes it listeners, especially the younger, more impressionable listeners, more violent. A study done by Loyola University has found that this is, in fact, not true and there is no direct relationship between heavy metal and violence, such as crimes and suicide, especially in younger listeners. It was found that participants that listened to heavy metal were less violent than those in the control group. One hypothesis that is widely accepted is that since the listener is exposed to violent music, they become adverse to it and decrease their desire to be violent. They are able to expel the negative feelings they have in their mind while listening to something deemed “violent.”

Heavy metal is a type of therapy for people who cannot tell their troubles to a proper, licensed therapist. Whether they are too stubborn or too egocentric to go to therapy, heavy metal is seen as a great way for troubled listeners 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 depression and anxiety. The genre provides people a way to vent their feelings and release the stress that is pent up in them. Nic Fleming published an article in The Telegraph, Britain’s finest journalism website, about a study done by Stuart Cadwallader at The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth at the University of Warwick that 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 higher intellectual children are picked on in school and heavy metal provides a way for them to eradicate any violent retaliation feelings they may posses towards their bullies.

Music is a reflection of what is going on in someone’s heart and soul. Heavy metal is the purest form of music. Some issues that many people have to deal with, such as death, anger, fear, illness, repressed weakness, and shortcomings are all issues portrayed in metal songs. Dave Mustaine, lead singer and guitarist of Megadeth, a pioneering thrash metal band, wrote the song “In My Darkest Hour” about his failed relationship with his ex girlfriend. Many listeners can relate to the lyrics in the song because many people have gone through bad breakups. Many people learn to cope with issues by listening to various heavy 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. 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 was bullied and he did not believe learning was important. He went to find menial jobs to do such as construction and even decided to try burglary. 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. The music the troubled musicians create help the troubled listeners in their journey to find peace of mind.

Works Cited

Arnett, Jeffrey. Adolescents and Heavy Metal Music : From the Mouths of Metalheads. 1991.

Cadwallader, Stuart. Heavy Metal a “Comfort for the Brain Child.” 2007.

Coss, Shaleen. The Effects of Heavy Metal Music on Aggression in College Students. 2009.

Fleming, Nic. Heavy Metal a “Comfort for the Brain Child.” 2007.

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