Why Heavy Metal Is Good For You

Heavy metal has been associated with aggression, violence and misogyny due to its lyrical themes. It has also been linked to increased risk of substance use, suicide and anxiety in community and psychiatric populations.

However, correlational research can’t draw causal inferences. And recent studies have reportedly found that headbangers can actually be better for you than you may think.

1. Reduces Stress

Metal is loud and energetic, and it can be a great stress-reliever. It can also boost focus and help you concentrate. Despite the negative stereotypes, many studies show that heavy metal doesn’t lead to depression and even promotes scientific thinking.

One study found that listening to metal music reduced blood pressure in 89 percent of participants and decreased heart rate by 18 percent. It was the second most effective genre at lowering stress, behind eighties pop.

Another study asked participants to discuss topics that inspire irritability and then listened to the music of their choice for 10 minutes. Researchers discovered that listening to metal music eased feelings of hostility and irritability more than sitting in silence did. More research is needed to understand how music-based emotion regulation strategies affect long-term mood.

2. Boosts Immune System

Despite being frequently portrayed as a music genre that cultivates aggression, heavy metal actually boosts your immune system. The immune system protects you against disease and infection. It also controls your body’s acid balance, blood composition and a host of other vital processes.

When toxic heavy metals are introduced, the immune system can break down and trigger autoimmunity. This is because the metals bind to certain genes and inhibit their normal function.

While we’re not advocating that you go out and bang away at your guitar (unless you’re doing it for the therapy), playing any musical instrument has some serious health benefits. One study found that people who enjoy intense music like heavy metal are more likely to have higher cognitive abilities. This includes logical thinking and the ability to process information quickly.

3. Reduces Anxiety

Heavy metal has long had a bad reputation based on its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics. However, despite accusations of blasphemy and encouraging suicide, the genre has been shown to actually reduce feelings of anger and stress among its fans.

A study conducted by the Vera Clinic tasked 1,540 participants aged between 18 and 65 to complete non-verbal reasoning tests while listening to different playlists of music to gage their physiological reactions. While the ’80s pop playlist caused a significant increase in blood pressure, the classic metal mix lowered the listeners’ anxiety levels and 89 percent experienced a reduction in heart rate.

Moreover, as metal is heavily influenced by historical events, mythological belief systems, and classic literature, being a fan of the genre promotes interest in these topics, further alleviating stress. Plus, the camaraderie of being a metal fan helps you form common bonds with other like-minded individuals.

4. Inspires Creativity

While metal music has been criticized for its exploration of madness and horror, many fans find the genre’s themes to be comforting and empowering. The music provides an outlet for their emotions and helps them cope with challenging life events.

Some studies have linked heavy metal to increased suicide risk and desensitisation to violence, but these studies often fail to take into account outside factors that may be influencing the listeners’ behaviour. Other research has found that when listening to their favourite artists, metalheads are more likely to be creative than non-listeners.

A viral TikTok video by Dr Nicole Andreoli went viral after she explained how listening to heavy metal alleviates stress and promotes critical thinking. She also claims that it helps to improve focus and concentration, and serves as a positive and safe outlet for anger.

5. Promotes Mental Health

Although heavy metal music has been associated with a negative stereotype of being satanic or evil, it can actually be beneficial to mental health. Firstly, the genre can promote scientific thinking by challenging claims that are often based on correlational evidence (Rosenbaum & Prinsky, 1991).

Secondly, it can help fans feel accepted by providing them with a community to belong to. Research has shown that metal communities have strong social hierarchies and a code of conduct with customs and traditions like mosh pit etiquette.

However, there are concerns that the lyrical themes of some metal music cultivate aggressive cognitions and behaviours, as well as externalising problems such as delinquency, alcohol use and adolescent suicide. Future research needs to investigate whether wellbeing, gender and personality traits act as moderating factors in these relationships.

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