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Science says death metal fans delightful and intelligent people, great at dinner parties

Music's violent subject matter has little effect on the listener

In a shocking turn of events, boffins have used the power of science to determine that, generally speaking, death metal fans don't actually want to rip off your head and shit down your neck.

Exploring the emotional effects of music, the team from Macquarie University in Sydney, Oz, pitted the extreme metal subgenre against sunshine pop in a psychological test called "binocular rivalry".

Participants in the study – published in the Royal Society journal Open Science – were shown violent and neutral imagery simultaneously, one in each eye, while listening to either Swedish death metal supergroup Bloodbath's track "Eaten" or Pharell Williams' "Happy".

Really, the most surprising finding was that the guinea pigs did not immediately seek the nearest window when being inflicted with the latter.

Let's compare and contrast.

Youtube Video

Cool. You can almost feel the BBC's jaw hit the floor at lyrics like "Carve me up, slice me apart, suck my guts and lick my heart. Chop me up, I like to be hurt, drink my marrow and blood for dessert" – but really there's nothing too cray-cray going on here.

The stated goal of Bloodbath was to summon the spirit of early '90s death metal a la Sweden's widely revered Entombed and the fertile Florida scene (Death, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse et al), and they've essentially achieved that over five full-lengths.

Then there's this.

Youtube Video

Jesus Christ.

Anyway, the researchers were looking out for whether the music choice affected how the test subjects – 32 death metal enthusiasts and 48 normies – responded to the visual stimuli. What did they find?

No matter what was being played, both fan and non-fan noticed the violent scene more than the ordinary one, suggesting that long-term exposure to aggressive music does not have a desensitising effect.

As one of the paper's authors, Professor Bill Thompson, explained to the Beeb: "The brain will try to take it in – presumably there's a biological reason for that, because it's a threat.

"If fans of violent music were desensitised to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn't show this same bias. But the fans showed the very same bias towards processing these violent images as those who were not fans of this music."

He added: "[Death metal] fans are nice people. They're not going to go out and hurt someone."

Metal as a whole is no stranger to scientific study. Research in 2015 found that those who listened to heavy metal during the '80s, arguably the peak of its notoriety, turned out to be more well-rounded people than their peers who did not.

So take heart, "ehhh-it's-just-noise" crew. Creepy Clive in accounting isn't going to shoot up the office, he just wants you to think he might.

Indeed, this vulture ran the gamut of Devourment, Necrophagist and Dying Fetus this morning – all of whom are far more vile and nauseating than Bloodbath – and I've only wanted to brutally murder my colleagues a couple of times. ®


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