Anxiety, depression high among metal fans

heavy_metal_anxietyLook, science journalism, it’s time for us to have a chat. I read you every day, but when you write about metal, I wince even before I read the article.

Here’s why: check out this article in which it summarizes research findings that ‘An analysis of 551 college students found “significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression among listeners of heavy metal/hard rock music, as compared with non-listeners.”’

While this is a reasonable assessment of the original study, keep in mind that science is a world in which we find out relationships between things before we find cause. Thus, there’s a few problems with this article:

  1. 551 people from community colleges around San Diego is not exactly a representative sample;
  2. The term “heavy metal” means a lot of things to a lot of people, but that doesn’t make them all right;
  3. We’re not sure whether this anxiety pre-dated the heavy metal or not;
  4. We’re not sure whether this anxiety is a result from honest and realistic fears about the future of society, whether brought on by minds opened by metal or not.

You can forgive us for being a little twitchy here in the metal world. Every time someone shoots up a school, there’s someone in the media or Congress looking to blame heavy metal. Heck, they almost banned us back in the 1980s with the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). But when studies come out, and then you give them a headline that makes it sound like heavy metal “causes” these problems, you’re giving ammunition to the bad guys.

Even more, this article has a huge picture of Rage Against the Machine on top. Who ever considered them to be metal? They don’t even like metal. They’d hate being called heavy metal. That’s like calling Nirvana metal, while Kurt Cobain was talking about how heavy metal was out of ideas and offended him politically.

Now let’s look at the good news:

Among those who listen to heavy metal, there were no significant differences in anger, anxiety, or depression among frequent as opposed to occasional listeners. The key factor seems to be the inclination to be drawn to this music, rather than the amount of time spent listening to it.

Translation: there’s something in fans before they hear heavy metal that makes them prone to being anxious about the future of our world. It’s unclear whether they’d be anxious in a different society, or even a more stable one.

Naturally, this pushes back against the idea that pure, perfect children turn into drug-abusing, crime-committing, sheep-raping suicidal maniacs the instant you let them listen to heavy metal. It also suggests that trying to slam that barn door extra hard after the horses are gone, and shutting off your kid’s music, won’t do any good.

Fortunately, it also points out that metalheads aren’t prone to anger or depression. In fact, as other research points out, it may be the smarter kids who are drifting toward heavy metal. This suggests that anxiety may be a side-effect of intelligence and awareness of what’s going on in the world, not “heavy metal poisoning.”

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Awareness causes depression

The usual suspects — a media composed of bitter also-rans and half-thoughts — has spewed forth its latest confusion between causation and correlation:

A new study conducted by Melbourne University finds that teens exposed to heavy metal music are more susceptible to depression and suicide.

Dr. Katrina McFerran — who we’ve confirmed isn’t Tipper Gore operating under a pseudonym — looked at the effects of several types of music on teenagers 13-18, and found that there was a higher risk of mental illness.

“Most young people listen to a range of music in positive ways; to block out crowds, to lift their mood or to give them energy when exercising,” said McFerran, “but young people at risk of depression are more likely to be listening to music, particularly heavy metal music, in a negative way.” – Guitar World

What makes someone seek heavy metal? They have realized that morality does not command the world, but power, and have also begun to seek a contrary power that is not afflicted with the terminal small-minded egomania of the modern “equal but unique” individual.

Why might they be depressed? They have realized that our society is falling like Rome fell, and that these things take time, but that the cause is not the damn Vandals but the corruption within. Our society has no values except an immediate and temporary power within the social context. Metal is beyond the social context.

What these dummies should ask instead is: Why are non-heavy-metal-fans in danger of falling into terminal narcissism, egalitarianism, oblivion, selfishness, egodrama and social “nonconformist” conformity?

t’s perhaps the biggest threat to the nation’s mental wellbeing, yet it’s freely available on every street – for pennies. The dealers claim it expands the mind and bolsters the intellect: users experience an initial rush of emotion (often euphoria or rage), followed by what they believe is a state of enhanced awareness. Tragically this “awareness” is a delusion. As they grow increasingly detached from reality, heavy users often exhibit impaired decision-making abilities, becoming paranoid, agitated and quick to anger. In extreme cases they’ve even been known to form mobs and attack people. Technically it’s called “a newspaper”, although it’s better known by one of its many “street names”, such as “The Currant Bun” or “The Mail” or “The Grauniad” (see me – Ed).

In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often “cut” the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards. – The Guardian

Our society is dying because it has no values in common, and so the selfishness of individuals predominates, and so oligarchy and commerce takes over from where leadership once stood.

Don’t blame heavy metal fans for noticing that, and being willing to face it and be depressed instead of hide their heads in the sand like the rest of you.

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OZZY IS RIGHT: “NON-CONFORMITY” IS CONFORMIST, METAL MUST REBEL

Death Metal Underground’s wise founder Brett Stevens posted a thoughtful article last weekend about the duality of exterior and interior being.  It describes how in these modern times we’re seeing an illusion of non-conformity that masks the conformity of thought and nature within.  This is an effective tactic of those in power be they media, silicon valley, deep state, or (in the case of metal) record executives and journalists:  get people to look different, but think the same.  This also masterfully articulates why metal is at its lowest creative point in the entire history of its existence: fans and musicians alike have accepted conformity of thought and sound through satisfaction with mere non-conformist aesthetics and culture.  And the only way to escape this rut is to violently rebel against everything we have been conditioned to believe is “metal” and “metal culture.”

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Nortt- Endeligt (2017)

After a decade of nothingness and decay, Denmark’s Nortt re-emerges in the form of a third full length on pt. 2 of the Avantgarde Music canon (the rock n’ roll/new wave edition). Rising to prominence in the early days of the suicidal black metal wave but vanishing just as the Thy Lights and Nocturnal Depressions of those days brought the movement to self-parody black and white Myspace-metal, Nortt returns to a world that has mostly forgotten their existence. As fate has seen their fellow Total Holocaust Records peers of that time fall into the pits of post-rock (Hypothermia), drug addiction (Nachtmystium), or straight up oblivion (Blodulv), will Nortt’s funeral doom foundation lead to a more desirable outcome?
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Thergothon – Stream From the Heavens (1994)

Murky and obscure like the style itself, a definition of doom metal proves elusive. Proponents of doom metal uphold it as a qualitatively discrete sub genre within metal on the grounds shared set of aesthetic, formal and ideological particularities that binds together a seemingly disparate conglomerate of artists and styles.

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Corporate Metal Labels Caught in a Death Spiral

Earlier this week the publishing catalog of metal mega-label Century Media has been pawned off for an undisclosed sum to Reservoir Media, a publishing boutique holding the royalty rights to songs by a variety of pop artists ranging from Drake to Lady Gaga. In investment terms, a boutique is defined as a financial firm that deals with a specific market, so picture Reservoir as a wealthy Wolf of Wall Street-like conglomerate recklessly gambling with the royalties of musicians. This is common in the modern music market, where suits are making bets on the evolving payout methods streaming services, but the surrender of Century Media’s entire catalog of albums (Death, Paradise Lost, In Flames) to a finance firm playing with house money goes to show how desperate the corporate metal labels of yesteryear have become.

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“C” Is For Average

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Metal was born of the fusion of heavy rock, horror music, progressive rock and the nascent proto-punk movement. The history of rock is the history of rebellion and rule-breaking: from Friedrich Liszt making his strings break live at key moments on purpose, to Jerry Lee Lewis lighting the piano on fire, to the Beatles with their hairstyles and jackets which were radical for the time, to the Doors being suggestive on the Ed Sullivan show, through Hendrix burning his guitar, to Kiss being super-sexual and painting their faces, to Black Sabbath who sang about Satan and magic, to Metallica who combined neoclassical with thrash and had a hard-partying image, to Slayer’s seemingly outright Satanism. Metal is about taking things one step further, breaking the rules and being unique. Not about following them.

Good music aims for a grade of “A” by experimenting and breaking the rules, but in doing so, takes the chance that it will get an “F.” Think of good music as Icarus: he flies toward the Heavens (or in the case of metal: towards hell) aware he is taking a big chance. He may well crash and burn to the ground in pursuit of his musical ideals. It’s a risk Icarus is willing to take.

Today we have way, way too many bands following all the rules of their genre, and not enough acts pressing ahead. When I look at my local scene it is clear that the bands who have stayed together a long while, while following the rules of their genre, are the bands who have been most successful. Most of these bands have decent music and are listenable. But its not stuff I want to listen to more than once, or see live more than once. This is the curse of local bands: competent, good at following trends, but not so good that they break out and become emblematic of those trends.

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