Death metal DOES NOT turn its fans violent, brings more joy than pop music: Study

Rock News 15/03/2019

A new study has squashed the notion that death metal, featuring lyrics about murder and cannibalism, doesn't turn fans into real-life violent maniacs.

Researchers in Australia found the music actually brings joy to fans of the genre, even more so than more traditional pop music fare.

Participants in the Macquarie University study listened to two very different songs while being shown violent imagery - Pharrell's hit song 'Happy' and 'Eaten' by Swedish death metal band Bloodbath, a track that begins with the lyrics "I've had one desire since I was born / To see my body ripped and torn."

"It is suggested that long-term exposure to violent media may decrease sensitivity to depictions of violence," the researchers wrote in the study, published in journal Open Science.

"However, it is unknown whether persistent exposure to music with violent themes affects implicit violent imagery processing."

They found death metal fans reacted the same to violent imagery as people who listen to pop music.

Researcher Prof Bill Thompson said it should be reassuring to parents that death metal won't desensitise their children to real-life violence.

"I didn't personally write them, but I would be frankly astounded if anyone listened to that song and then felt a desire to be eaten by a cannibal," he told BBC News.

Death metal fans had no trouble distinguishing art and entertainment from reality, he said, and even found it joyful and empowering to listen to.

"Fans derived positive emotional experiences from the music... I think that to listen to this music and to transform it into an empowering, beautiful experience - that's an amazing thing."

The band told BBC News the lyrics were "harmless fun" and the "aural version of an 80s horror film".

"The majority of death metal fans are intelligent, thoughtful people who just have a passion for the music," said Bloodbath member Nick Holmes.