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Metal music is a relatively new genre to the music world. However, said genre is wrongly frowned upon by people because claims of it being satanic have spread like wildfire. While the assertion regarding metal music being detrimental overpowers the opposite, many studies have proven the beneficial aspects of its existence.
Music is one of man’s most important creations for it is the art of describing a certain event or idea by using notes, silences, and a certain rhythm to attract the attention of the masses. It has existed since the dawn of mankind starting with cavemen dancing around flaming pyres chanting ritualistic songs to please their gods. Then, music began evolving to describe ideas like love, patriotism, and modern-day problems like drug addiction. The golden age of modern music began in the 20th century with the creation of many genres (most notably, blues, jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal, hip hop, and pop). However, some of the said genres are heavily criticized by society. Heavy metal is the most infamous son of the 20th century because of claims of it being tied to Satanism. While the assertion regarding metal music being detrimental overpowers the opposite, many studies have proven the beneficial aspects of its existence.
The history of heavy metal music dates back to the 1960s. The heavy genre was born in 1968 in England’s West Midlands, Birmingham. And who was its father? None other than the legendary band Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath was a heavy metal band that was influenced by multiple genres like Hard Rock and Blues. The members of this historical band include Tommy Iommi as the only guitarist, Bill Ward as the drummer, Geezer Butler as the bassist, and the legend Ozzy Osbourne behind the microphone. However, Ozzy was later kicked out due to drug abuse and was replaced by the equally as famous Ronnie James Dio in 1979. Though, Dio left 4 years later.
Heavy Metal split into many subgenres, however only the major subgenres will be discussed. First, Thrash metal was created in the early 1980’s with most notably Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. Thrash Metal uses distorted guitars, middle paced drumming, and relatively clean vocals. Another important subgenre to be discussed is Death Metal. Death Metal was pioneered by the band Death (thus its name) in the middle of the 1980’s. Death Metal features more a more brutal tone and melody than its counterpart Thrash Metal. Death Metal includes heavy distorted guitars, fast paced drumming, and distorted vocals known as ‘growling’. Third, a completely different genre from its brethren is Metalcore. Metalcore was created in the 1990’s by bands like Killswitch Engage, and Bullet for My Valentine. It includes complex distorted guitars, very fast paced drumming, and clean vocals along with growling at some points in songs.
Listeners of the heavy genre are usually marginalized because of their musical taste. However, this topic is controversial in itself due to scholars arguing whether listeners marginal themselves as they have built an oppositional relationship against mainstream music, or whether society criticizes metalheads the same way society demeans homosexuals and atheists. This is evident because MTV never plays metal songs and the Grammy Awards exclude the metal genre. Though, it can be concluded that marginalization is the fault of both parties.
Since the dawn of metal music, Christians have considered it as the ‘Devil’s Music’, for based on Bishop Alexander, ‘contemporary heavy metal rock’ is the genre that exists in hell. Furthermore, Bishop Alexander goes on by saying that heavy metal and rock are diverting Christians away from the one true path, the path of God. However, all these claims contain fallacies. For instance, the genre ‘heavy metal rock’ does not even exist considering that Heavy Metal and Rock are two completely different genres. Thus, it can be concluded that Bishop Alexander is not well read up on Heavy Metal and thus is unqualified to make such claims. Also, Christians have based their hateful relationship with heavy metal music on hypocritical bases, for they have created many bands in said genre.
After hearing Heavy Metal music, some Christians decided to hop the Metal music bandwagon and create bands of their own. The most popular band leading Christian Metal is called Skillet. Skillet have songs that act as gospels like the song ‘My Religion’ and they use religious symbols like in their lyric video of the song ‘Not Gonna Die’ where the lion who symbolizes Jesus Christ helps a little girl who symbolizes humanity defeat a six headed dragon or the Devil. Some bands, however, do not think Hard Rock is enough to praise God and thus, they have created a new genre known as Unblack Metal which has the same criteria as Black Metal, but instead of praising Satan, Jesus Christ is praised. Some of said bands include Horde, Antestor, and Crimson Moonlight.When asked, Unblack Metal bands claim they follow Black Metal as a style and not as an ideology.
Admittedly, the truth of metal being Satanic is true to a certain extent. Black Metal,or the evil twin of Death Metal, is single-handedly responsible for the stereotype of Metal music being Satanic. This subgenre was created by the band Venom when it dared to take Satan’s side in the early 1980’s, and thus attracted the attention of Satanists who want to praise the Deciever into the Metal music genre. Furthermore, some speculations of backmasking in Metal songs are present. Backmasking is the implementation of hidden messages in songs that can only be understood backwards. Yet again, all the backwards demonic messages are present in Black Metal songs like ‘As Flittermice as Satan’s Spy’ by Darkthrone where the phrase ‘In the name of God, let the churches burn’ is present near the end of the song. Furthermore, claims of metal music making people violent and making some people commit suicide also lead people to antagonize metal music. For a study done by K.R.Scheel and J.S.Westefeld in 1999 shows that adolescents who listen to metal music are threefold more likely to kill themselves.
However, all arguments stated against metal music can easily be countered. First, Satanic symbols are mostly present in one subgenre in the vast ocean of subgenres of metal music, thus avoiding Black Metal in general is the simplest yet most effective remedy to the fear of being indoctrinated by the Church of Satan. Second, although backmasking is present in some Black Metal songs, it is also as ubiquitous in pop songs. Nevertheless, people do not stop to listening to their favorite bands like The Beatles, and The Eagles. Also claims of metal music and backmasking Thrash Metal and other genres leading people to kill themselves or others is a bold claim. For as said by Rodney M.Schmaltz ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’. Finally, a correlational relationship is present between the taste in music and harmful behavior. People who have a higher chance of engaging in criminal behavior are more likely to listen to heavy music, which is why metal music has more criminals in its following.
Metal music has various positive effects on the human subconscious. First, it has been proven that liking metal music is linked to having a higher intelligence. Listeners of heavy metal tend to take solace in said genre as they enjoy political and complex themes present in it which are almost nonexistent in mainstream pop music. For instance, songs like ‘Holy Wars… The Punishment Due’ by Megadeth carries heavy political messages and would only interest listeners intrigued by politics. Also, Heavy Metal music listeners tend to be very similar to classical music listeners ( classical music listeners have the highest IQ when it comes to the relationship between music and intelligence as they both are creative, calm, and at ease with themselves.
Second, studies have shown that listening to Death Metal does not desensitise listeners to violence. Professor Bill Thomson at Macquarie University and his team showed 32 metalheads and 48 non metalheads violent images by a technique called binocular rivalry, and the study proved that both metalheads and non metalheads responded to the violent images in the same manner (Donoughue, 2019). Also, this same study proved that metal music makes people happy and calm rather violent. Professor Thomson claims that people listen to violent music to calm themselves the same way people listen to sad music to feel better. The claim of metal music making people calmer is also backed up by a study done by the University of Queensland where the theory that ‘extreme music matches and helps to process anger is verified’.
Personally, I believe that metal music is not Satanic apart from Black Metal. Metal is a genre that is wrongly frowned upon by society. Metal fans and bands are incredibly criticised in Lebanon. Most fans are called Satanists and are urged to stop listening to the proclaimed ‘noise’ they listen to. Also, it is truly a shame that a ‘democratic’ country like Lebanon bans famous bands like Sepultura to host the show on the 28th of April, 2019 simply because there was speculation that Sepultura is Satanic and that these false accusations insult Christianity. Also, Metalheads in Lebanon are of the most friendly members of society since in concerts all Metalheads are friends regardless of their age, color, sex, and religion.
In conclusion, although many claim that metal music is deleterious on people, studies have proven otherwise. Metal music is vital in the lives of many individuals, for it relieves stress, calms people, and contains deep, messages not present in any other genre. Furthermore, metal music should be respected and considered equal to any other music genre rather than be criticized and stereotyped as Satanic for the existence of the miniscule genre of Black Metal.
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