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An Aussie study has tried to explain the appeal of death metal

Posted on June 23, 2018
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A researcher from Sydney’s Macquarie University has attempted to scientifically explain why death metal is such a beloved genre, given its characteristically harsh sound.

For years, metal fans have found themselves forced to defend the genres that they love. No matter who they are, these music fans are often berated by questions from ignorant onlookers who question how they can listen to something so supposedly ‘violent’, ‘angry’, or ‘evil’. Now, scientists are trying to answer that question for us.

As Scientific American reports, music psychologist William Forde Thompson from Macquarie University has attempted to find out why exactly people enjoy the genre of death metal.

“It’s the paradox of enjoying a negative emotion that I was interested in,” Thompson explained. “Why are people interested in music that seems to induce a negative emotion, when in everyday life we tend to avoid situations that will induce a negative emotion?”

While science has given us a few musical insights in the past, including informing us the bassist is a band’s most important member, and telling us that going to gigs results in a longer life, this is the first time that they’ve taken a look at why people enjoy death metal.

Through an online survey of 48 death metal fans and 97 non-fans, Thompson and his team discovered that fans tend to experience mainly positive emotions when listening to this style of music. Surprisingly, they discovered the only time that anyone really feels emotions such as anger while jamming out to some Cannibal Corpse is if they aren’t already fans of the genre.

“The ubiquitous stereotype of death metal fans—fans of music that contains violent themes and explicitly violent lyrics—[is] that they are angry people with violent tendencies,” Thompson explained.

“What we are finding is that they are not angry people. They’re not enjoying anger when they listen to the music, but they are in fact experiencing a range of positive emotions.”

“When I’m locked into it, it’s like there’s electricity flowing through me,” explained Chris Pervelis, guitarist of death metal band Internal Bleeding. “I feel really alive, like hyper-alive. And the people I know in Death Metal are smart, creative and generally good-hearted souls.”

So there you go. If your parents have ever warned you that you’ll become a violent degenerate for listening to Morbid Angel, just (respectfully) recite the findings of this study back at them.

Check out Cannibal Corpse’s ‘Hammer Smashed Face’:

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