Music can be very therapeutic. You can reap the benefits from listening, no matter what genre you love.
The human brain responds to music in fascinating ways. Many people may identify music as a form of emotional expression, or even more personally as an extension of themselves. Music can also be tied to specific memories, both good and bad.
Other therapeutic ways people might respond to music include:
- dancing to a rhythm
- visualizing the music mentally
- singing along to a melody
Musical tastes can be very personal and varied. Sometimes, the type of music you like can depend on the mood you’re in. One day, you may choose to listen to classical or jazz because you’re busy concentrating. And another day, you may feel like listening to high-energy music, like heavy metal.
When it comes to metal, there tend to be many misconceptions. But science may point to some significant mental health benefits.
The answer is yes, if you like heavy metal music.
Metal is typically described as loud and energetic, sometimes with vocals that are shouted or screamed as well as sung. And if you love the way that sounds, this unique music genre can positively impact your mental health.
It’s typical for metal songs to pair emotional lyrics with the genre’s hallmark larger-than-life sound. Listening to metal can help provide an outlet for processing intense emotions like anger. It can also relieve stress. For metal lovers, this high level of energy from can help provide an emotional release.
Listening to metal music can benefit both your body and mind, and may even help your immune system, according to a small 2002 study. But this fact could be said for any music you like.
Metal and depression
Depression is a mental health condition that causes low moods and loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. If you love metal, listening to this genre can help lessen negative emotions you may be feeling. It may also help reduce cortisol levels, which can result in less stress.
Metal and acceptance
Many people might want to feel that they are accepted and part of a group. Going to metal concerts, listening to your favorite bands, and just being a fan can help you bond with others over a shared interest.
Feeling alone or isolated can negatively impact your health and wellness. Knowing you share a love of the same kind of music as so many others can reinforce the notion that you are not alone and are a part of something bigger than yourself.
Metal and cognitive function
A 2019 survey with nearly 90,000 participants in developer (coding) professions asked what types of music helps them focus. The participants reported that a broad range of music types, from classical music to video game soundtracks, helps them focus. But an estimated 2,000 participants specifically said metal was most helpful for their focus.
A campaign against heavy metal music was launched in the 1990s in response to an increase in gun violence in the United States. Some people blamed the genre for the violent crime wave, citing that metal music is:
However, these are negative misconceptions that paint a vast genre with a broad brush and may lead to unfair biases. Since metal tends to embrace a wide scope of emotions and topics, fans tend to perceive the music in a positive light.
Myth 1: Metal harms your brain
There is no scientific evidence that metal music harms the brain or correlates to intelligence in any way.
Myth 2: Metal makes you angry
Some lyrics in metal may express rage, but no evidence has been found that listening to this music sensitizes fans to violence. A small 2015 study found that when fans are angry, they can listen to their favorite metal band as a positive way to process anger safely.
Myth 3: Metal is associated with violence and evil
If you are not a fan of heavy metal, the music might seem aggressive, threatening, or stressful. Some lyrics may take you to a dark place and explore the unpleasant parts of human nature, such as death. Because of these darker artistic elements, metal music might be easily stereotyped as “satanic” or evil.
But through the eyes of a metal fan, they may see the music as creatively breaking away from mainstream genres. Many might find comfort in reflecting on the toughness of life while seeing a positive impact to their mental health.
How you interpret and relate to metal music is dependent on how comfortable you are exploring tough topics, like grief or pain. Listening to metal can be a healthy way to reflect on more difficult themes and subjects that affect our lives.
Listening to music of any genre can be therapeutic and may provide a powerful emotional release. Heavy metal is no exception.
If you love metal, listening to it can provide numerous benefits for mental health and wellness. Many fans may be energized by its powerful sound and find solace in emotionally intense lyrics.
Listening to this genre of music can improve symptoms of stress and depression. Metal also might help some people feel accepted, belonging to a community of other like-minded fans. People who prefer metal may also have higher cognitive function based on logic and scientific thinking.
Yet, there are many myths and misconceptions about heavy metal. Metal was once thought to be “satanic” or evil, and has even been the social scapegoat for violent crimes. However, there is no evidence that this type of music makes people angry or violent.
The opposite may actually be true for many fans. Some people feel metal helps them approach challenging life events with a different perspective while allowing an outlet for emotional expression.