The most recent in a decades-long series of psychological experiments into the emotional effects of music has demonstrated something that I could have told you for free: listening to death metal has a positive mental effect on fans, does not desensitize them to violence, and scares the shit out of normal people.
Just published in Royal Society Open Science, the work by researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia compared the reactions of death metal fans and non-fans to a pair of images, one violent and the other non-violent, with one image being displayed to each eye.
Dr. Yanan Sun explained that, due to "binocular rivalry," when presented with two images, the brain will tend to focus on one more than the other. When normal people are presented with both a neutral image and a violent, threatening one, they focus on the violent image (for what I think are obvious reasons).
Sun's testing showed that the death metal fans also focused more on the violent image, indicating that they had not become desensitized to violence due to repeated exposure to all of the lovely violent content in their chosen genre of music.
In each test case, the
Guess what? Death-metallers reported feeling "peace, joy, power and wonder" when they listened to "Eaten," while the control group experienced "tension, anger and fear."
Researcher Bill Thompson likened fans' seemingly paradoxical enjoyment of brutal, violent music to many people's enjoyment of sad music. "Instead of leaving fans feeling hostile, the music helps them to discharge or distract from their own negative feelings, increase energy levels, and generate powerful, visceral emotional states."
"[Death metal] fans are nice people."
Photo credit: Luka Knežević - Strika, EXIT Photo Team. Photo of "Crowd at Kreator, Explosive Stage, EXIT Festival 2011" Use here under Creative Commons license: cc-by-sa-3.0 license.