The American Psychological Association has recently published findings that fans of heavy metal tend to be more prone to ailments such as depression and anxiety than “non-listeners”. Perhaps fans of heavy metal are just slightly more aware of what’s up than most but, either way, the numbers don’t lie.
In a case study involving 551 college students, researchers found “significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression among listeners of heavy metal/hard rock music, as compared with non-listeners”. From the endless subgenres of ‘heavy metal’, only emo, hardcore punk, death metal and thrash metal were listed so, post-hardcore, deathcore, metalcore and technical deathcore fans, you may yet be in the clear.
In the researchers own words, the subgenres listed are connected as they “have dark overtones and often use graphic lyrics that express angry, depressed, or painted emotions, in combination with screams, groans, and particularly dense and/or particularly syncopated rhythms,” but out of everything “the subgenre of classic heavy metal was by far the most popular among heavy metal listeners”.
More than half of those interviewed for the study mentioned that they were metal fans, which is a pretty rad sign of the times. Another plus side is that the figures also indicated that the high levels of anger that are oft attributed to the poor common metalhead are no higher than that of any other music listener.
It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg type situation, as there seems to be no evidence as to whether this type of music causes depression and anxiety or whether sufferers turn to this type of music as an emotional release. The report mentions that “it may be that the high-pitched and shrill screams paired with subject matter predominantly focused on the emotional pain and loss – which often characterize the hardcore and screamo subgenres – speak to the cathartic effects of heavy metal”.
Obviously the researchers have missed the point of heavy metal entirely.