Heavy Metal and ‘Extreme’ Music Can Be Calming, Study Finds

Two rock musicians on stageHeavy metal, punk, and other loud, aggressive varieties of music have been historically blamed for things such as child murders and satanic rituals, and some may suspect their influence even today. According to a small new study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, however, heavy metal and similar musical genres might actually help calm angry listeners.

Heavy Metal: A Calming Influence?

Researchers recruited 39 people who regularly listen to music the researchers classified as “extreme”—heavy metal, hardcore, punk, and emo. Participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 34, participated in a 16-minute “anger induction” session. During the session, participants discussed high-stress topics such as relationship problems and financial problems. Researchers then gave participants 10 minutes to listen to the music of their choice and 10 minutes of silence.

Half of the participants selected songs with themes of anger or aggression, with others choosing music that focused on themes such as isolation or loss. The participants reported that the music helped them feel calmer and happier. Researches found that the effects of listening to the so-called “extreme” music were similar to the effects of 10 minutes of silence, suggesting that both can be calming. Many participants reported feeling inspired after listening to music, and researchers noted that participants were less irritable and aggressive after hearing the music of their choice.

The research team suggests that, rather than being a catalyst for negative or aggressive emotions, angry music can help listeners process their feelings and as a result lead to greater well-being. Because the study occurred in a lab setting, researchers say they will need to replicate their findings in more natural environments. The effects of listening to angry music in a lab might be quite different than the effects associated with listening to the same type of music alone in a bedroom, for instance. Additionally, the sample size was a small one, so research on a larger group is necessary to confirm these findings.


Head-banging tunes can have same effect as a warm hug. (2015, June 17). Retrieved from https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2015/06/head-banging-tunes-can-have-same-effect-warm-hug.

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  • Marie

    June 29th, 2015 at 11:25 AM

    Well this is sort of the opposite of what we would usually initially think about this kind of music. But I think that any music can be therapeutic, you just have to find the kind that speaks the most directly to you.

  • Nan

    June 29th, 2015 at 4:51 PM

    Classical? yes calming
    Heavy metal? not at all

  • Jay

    July 1st, 2015 at 2:12 AM

    I listen to heavy metal / thrash metal. Been doing so since I was 12. Everyone seems to think that makes me a devil worshiper and an extremely violent person. Now while I do have violent tendencies, ( those stem from physical / emotional & drug / alcohol abuse. ) I find comfort and peace in heavy metal music ( korn & cold in particular ) it lets me know that I’m not alone and other people have gone through the same thing I have and survived. It allows the emotional release I need to get the negative feelings out in a healthy manner, even if it viewed as extreme. It’s making the best of a fucked up situation

  • Mila

    July 12th, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    I am so glad I found this article. Finally, someone is saying what I have felt for many years. Maybe I’m just a strange breed of person, but I find that metal calms me down as well. And it’s great to workout to.

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