Not Killing Me Softly With This Song
is widely accessible from all forms of media with the capability of influencing
attitude and to manipulate emotions, and listeners are drawn to music that
reflects their emotional state. Heavy metal is a genre that is characterized by
chaotic, loud, heavy, and powerful sounds with emotional vocals, often
containing themes of anxiety, depression, social isolation, and loneliness (Shafron
and Karon 74). Due to these musical characteristics, heavy metal has been
claimed to lead to anger, and expressions of anger such as delinquency, drug
use, and suicidal tendencies (Selfhout et al. 443).
Heavy metal originated in the
surrounding areas of Birmingham, England, during the late 1960s and early 1970s
with bands such as The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix (tech rock). During the early 70s,
most of the world’s population was still recovering from the turmoil that plagued
the 60s causing new genres of music to emerge, one of which was heavy metal.
Black Sabbath- one of the first bands that originated in Birmingham- gave a
voice to the time of despair. “At the forefront of the controversy surrounding extreme
music is the prominence of aggressive lyrics and titles, such as “Pure Hatred”
by Chimaira, and “Violent Revolution” by the band Kreator” (ncbi). The subculture of the music, as well as the
generalized sound, has led to the accusations that heavy metal causes suicide, aggression,
Studies conducted by Karen R. Scheel
and John S. Westfeld have proven that one’s emotional state, home life, and history
of substance abuse play an imperative role in what music he or she prefers. In
their studies people who are suicidal prefer to listen grunge, heavy metal, and
scremo. Though, heavy metal tends to draw people who are suicidal not, vise
versa. “The impact of the heavy metal music subculture on suicide has been the
subject of much public debate but little scholarly research” (Stack 19).
Nonetheless, heavy metal has been accused of being the leading cause of suicide
on multiple accounts, including the instance where two families sued heavy
metal band Judas Priest for supposedly driving their sons to suicide (Rother).
“Reno, December 23-Two days before
Christmas in 1985 two young Nevada men shot themselves after listening to
multiple albums by the heavy metal band Judas Priest. The families had argued
that the musicians had played subliminal messages in several recordings,
including the album “Stained Class,” thereby enticing the two troubled young
men to try and kill themselves” (Rotehr). As the investigation continued both
men were discovered as having a long line of domestic and drug abuse, and while
the suicide letters wrote that Judas Priest and several other bands blatantly drove
the men to suicide, Judas Priest was not held legally responsible for the death
of the two men (Giles). Since this tragic event, many studies have been
conducted in an attempt to find out the psychological effects heavy metal has
on teens and young adults.
characteristic such as delinquency, drug use, and suicidal tendencies have been
linked to heavy metal, though it is not the music or the subculture that causes
these issues. There are multiple factors that play into one’s suicidal thoughts
and acts, such as home life, personal life, and work life, heavy metal is
merely an escape.