According To Science: Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Invokes Joy, Not Violence

March 13, 2019

When those outside of the rock and metal community reads the lyrics to songs like Bloodbath's cannibalistic song "Eaten," chances are some will believe that this kind of music promotes violence and evil.

But according to a psychological study conducted by the music lab of Macquarie University, fans of this music have not been "desensitised" by violent imagery.

Professor Bill Thompson of the Australian University helmed the study, studying the emotional effects music has on listeners. He revealed that hard rock & heavy metal fans are nice people that do not feel compelled to commit acts of violence of any kind. They simply find joy in listening to heavier music.

The test recruited 32 metal fans and 48 metal fans listen to a death metal song or a pop song while looking at some emotionally-contrasting images. One image would show scenes of violence, while the other images were innocent and neutral. Known as "binocular rivalry," whenever a participant sees a neutral image in one eye and a violent image in the other, they will often pay attention to the violent image more.

As for the musical variable of the study, participants would listen to one of two songs: Bloodbath's "Eaten" and Pharrel's upbeat hit "Happy."

The point of the test was to examine how much each of the participants' brains paid attention to the violent images over the pleasant images, and how the music affected their level of sensitivity. Thompson presumed that participants paying more attention to the violent images over the innocuous ones was based in biology. The eyes would gravitate towards the violent image, informing the brain whether what they are seeing is a threat.

The results showed that metal fans were not desensitized by violence, and that they expressed the same emotional response to the violent images as the non-metal participants. Because if they were desensitized, then they would have responded indifferently to both images. This addresses a big concern facing many parent groups, religious groups and censorship groups regarding hard rock and heavy metal music.