Heavy metal music helps fans deal with the idea of their own death, new research suggests.
According to a study in the Journal of Psychology of Popular Media, the sense of identity that the death-themed music creates gives listeners meaning to their lives.
In turn, this feeling helps fans deal with the concept of their own mortality. Yet the researchers found the music does not help those who do not like it.
The psychologist's findings support a psychological idea called “terror management theory” (TMT). According to TMT, cultural values help people manage the prospect of their own death by providing life with value and purpose.
"Heavy metal music is often associated with death and dying by non-fans, whereas members of this subculture report that listening to metal music is their escape from depression and even helpful against death-related thoughts," the psychologists wrote.
"Metal music can be seen as cultural good for fans and thereby can form part of their social identity."
The researchers from universities in the Netherlands and Germany, carried out the project with 30 participants.
They tested how prominent heavy metal culture was in their minds before and after writing about death.
To one group they played a song such as Slayer's "Angel of Death" and to the other they played an audio book.
The psychologists say the results from these tests showed listening to heavy metal music boosts self-esteem for fans and helps them with the idea of dying.
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