Why Listening to Heavy Metal Music Can Actually Make You Calmer—Seriously

They say that music soothes the savage beast, but you'd probably never guess heavy metal turns out to be the equivalent of a warm and cozy hug, according to science.

Listening to music is great for both body and mind. It can make you feel younger and help you sleep better. Although we tend to assume that classical music is the most soothing, and previous scientific research has linked loud and chaotic music to aggression and delinquency, that’s never been substantiated by science. In fact, quite the opposite: Listening to “extreme” music such as heavy metal, emo, hardcore, and punk has been found to have a calming effect on those experiencing anger, according to a study out of the University of Queensland in Australia and published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Specifically, the study found that extreme music—characterized not only by loud and chaotic sounds, but also by lyrical themes of anxiety, depression, and isolation—helps those who enjoy listening to it to process negative feelings and come out on the other side to a more positive state of mind. Researchers, Genevieve Dingle, PhD, and her student, Leah Sharman, looked at 39 adults between the ages of 18 and 34 who identified as fans of extreme music, and then subjected them to 16 minutes of “anger induction” by having them to describe events that made them feel angry. That was followed by 10 minutes of either silence or extreme music selected from the participants’ own playlists (the participants had been randomly assigned to one or the other).

Listening-To-This-Type-of-Music-Makes-You-Calmer-Hint-Its-Not-ClassicalUber Images/shutterstock

As might be expected, the people reported feeling hostile and irritable during anger induction and less so during the music and the silence. Those whose anger induction was followed by silence also experienced a decrease in heart rate. But those whose anger induction was followed by music reported feeling an increase in positive emotions. Accordingly, the researchers concluded that extreme music did not increase angry feelings in the participants. In addition, the researchers believe that the music actually matched the emotions of the participants, which led to their being able to process their emotions and ultimately allowing them to feel better.

In fact, participants reported that they had selected music to “enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love and enhance their well-being,” Sharman told the UQ News. All of the responses indicated that extreme music listeners appear to use their choice of music for positive self-regulatory purposes.”

Other studies from the past few years show that metal, punk, and hardcore music may be making you more confident or better at your job, reports Inquisitr.com. Perhaps these results won’t surprise anyone who already knows that heavy metal fans tend to be gentle and creative, but for all the moms out there who worry that their teen’s choice of head-banging music may lead to violence or even satanism, these science-backed results should come as a relief. Heavy metal fans–make sure you’re buying the best headphones for you. 

Not convinced? Perhaps you should take a 30-second musical breather to calm your nerves.

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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.