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10-year study: Metal music makes you “joyful”, not violent

Photo: Watain and Getty

A study that took 10 years to complete was just published today (13 march) on Royal Society Open Science just in time to educate Singaporeans!

It’s findings: Metal music and death metal, in particular, doesn’t make you violent as some people may think. In fact, psychological studies show that it can bring “joy” and “empowerment” instead, as reported by BBC.

Violent? Wat-it-ain’t!

The timing of the study is uncanny, being released less than one week before the ill-fated Watain concert was cancelled by Info-Communications Media Authority of Singapore (IMDA) on the of the concert itself.

The concert was initially supposed to proceed, albeit with a R18 rating. But a petition calling for a ban popped up a day before the show and spread like wildfire.

Watain and fans finding out their gig got cancelled. Singapore: is this violence? @WATAINOFFICIAL

In a just a day, Rachel Chan’s “Ban satanic music groups Watain and Soilwork from performing in Singapore” petition racked up 15,000 signatures. Within hours, IMDA caved into the pressure and cancelled it. One of the reasons being that the ban “endorses violence”.

Metal is just as violent as pop music (read: it isn’t)

Prof Thompson, the lead researcher of the project and his colleagues wanted to investigate the emotional effects of music.

They recruited 32 metal fans and 48 non-fans as test subjects and had them listen either a metal song or a pop song while looking at disturbing images.

A group of them listen to Bloodbath’s cannibalism-themed track, Eaten while the other listened to — you guessed it — Happy by Pharrell Williams while a series of images, violent and neutral, were shown at them.

Watain being violent and satanic while patronising a Singaporean eatery. PHOTO: VAM RICHIE

The results showed that both fans and non-fans had similarly negative reactions to violent imagery. This shows that metal fans aren’t “desensitised” to violence or “like” violence; they find it uncomfortable.

Thompson hoped this would be “reassuring to parents or religious groups”, adding that:

“The dominant emotional response to this music is joy and empowerment. And I think that to listen to this music and to transform it into an empowering, beautiful experience – that’s an amazing thing.”

What can we learn from studies like this?

  1. Satanism and violent metalheads are probably not a national security threat at the moment – can somebody @the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Council of Churches please?
  2. Metal music actually benefits those who enjoy the music including bringing joy, alleviating mental illness, and making them more emotionally healthy.
  3. Those who are thinking of protesting Soilwork, set to perform Oct. 29, might have some anger issues yourself, I recommend a healing Watain playlist for your emotional needs.

OK, real talk. 15,000 signatures (now 18,000 at this time of writing) is a big number for such a little island like Singapore. In a time of petitions, and protests, and no one actually listening to each other anymore, it’s important to have constructive discussions around things that matter to us.

Hopefully, this research can facilitate that.

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