That’s me in the cover photo…just older.
I’m a forty-something introvert, mom, and writer and love hard rock and metal. It’s cathartic.
Have you ever watched Dead to Me? Christina Applegate’s character meditates via metal. It’s the scene in which I felt understood…that I’m not the only one who can find solace in such music.
Scene from Dead to Me, Music Paralyzed by Caliban, a metalcore band. (warning explicit)
1. Mental Health
Perhaps listening to metal is an equivalent to the primal scream…an outpouring of raw emotion. I live with depression and anxiety, and tension and frustrations build up within me too quickly sometimes. Instead of allowing it to boil over into yelling and cursing the universe, I feel the release of these emotions through the music. Some people run every morning to moderate these emotions. I would love to pound pavement and just go, but my back and knees prevent me from doing so. Next best thing…cranking up the metal (and perhaps some dancing around like a fool in the privacy of my own bedroom). I actually enjoy a variety of music, but if I have to pick a favorite, it’s metal.
2. Health Benefits
Immersing yourself in any genre of music you love, even metal, has been shown to reduce stress levels. The levels of cortisol in our bodies are reduced over time. Cortisol is that evil stress hormone that causes so many problems, such as anxiety, depression, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and even memory and concentration impairment.
Many don’t believe that hard rock and metal can possibly reduce stress, but we all connect with music. Some of us connect with pop or country or classical…and some of us connect with hard rock and metal. Music we love triggers dopamine and endorphins to release within our bodies. These are two of those “happy hormones” you’ve heard of. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone and endorphins help with pain relief and relaxation. How great is it that cortisol can decrease and dopamine and endorphins are released by listening to metal?!
While the energy of metal isn’t for everyone, it can be a shower of positive sensory energy for metalheads. It’s also an intelligent genre with innumerable subgenres, all containing incredible technical aspects. As Brian Clark explains:
“Some subgenres of metal…focus on technical virtuosity. They stray away from conventional songwriting norms to explore complex and changing scales, harmony, song structures, odd time signatures, and themes. It’s not unusual for metal songs…[to explore ] heady philosophical topics or concept storylines.”
He goes on to say that “[it] can be complex or simple, harsh or beautiful, fast or slow, or all of these in the course of a single track.”
4. Range of Emotions
Non-fans may find it to just be stereotypically loud and abrasive, but it’s much more. Metal covers a range of emotions.
Here is an example of metal lyrics with positive messages:
Be Still and Know by Machine Head:
Shake our grief
Hold on to belief
It can’t enslave us forever
There is relief
No change will be permanent
Our strength enduring bright incandescent
Or, how about a metal love song?
We by Volbeat
It’s good to be here, long time no see my dear
I took the run out to the road to find a way
But the loneliness broke into tears
I believe I was wrong but baby
Now I know your love is not a thing
You throw out in the cold and walked away
I’m so sorry, please say you forgive
Music is a functional way to process any emotion…joy, anger, sadness…and metal doesn’t disappoint. Within the sounds and lyrics of metal, fans worldwide find comfort, feel energized, and even find solace.
5. Fun Covers
Another thing I love are the covers metal bands have done. You may be surprised! Here are a few…
- House of the Rising Son, originally by The Animals in 1964, covered by Five Finger Death Punch
- Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel, covered by Disturbed
- I’ve Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash, covered by L.A. Rats
- Oops I Did it Again by Britney Spears, covered by Children of Bodom
- It’s a Sin by Pet Shop Boys, covered by Ghost
- Tainted Love by Soft Cell, covered by Marilyn Manson
- Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar, covered by The Amity Affliction
- Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd, covered by The Amity Affliction
- These Boots are Made for Walking by Nancy Sinatra, covered by Megadeath
- Blank Space by Taylor Swift, covered by I Prevail
Are you a closeted metalhead?
It’s ok if it’s your guilty pleasure. No one looks at me and assumes I listen to metal. In fact, I posted a survey on social media to find out what my acquaintances’ assumptions were on my taste in music. I was humored by the responses. No one even mentioned metal as a possibility.
Let me end with a quote from Nick Perham, PhD. How many allusions do you notice?
“So, you beautiful people, whether you’re heading out to the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven, walk this way. Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud. Dig!”
Copyright © 2021 Alicia Rust. All rights reserved.