Jonathan Brown of U.K.’s The Independent reports:
Heavy metal has long been saddled with a reputation for attracting admirers more interested in decibels than Descartes. New research, however, promises to rescue the genre from the mosh pit of intellectual obscurity.
A study has revealed that death metal and thrash bands such as Slayer and produce the music of choice for today’s brightest youngsters.
A survey which was carried out among students at the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, a cohort drawn from the top 5 per cent of the nation’s youngsters, drew praise for metal’s “visceral brutality” with more than a third rating it among their favourite styles. Researchers admitted they were surprised to find that “intelligent” genres traditionally associated with the precociously bright, such as classical and jazz, were the least popular.
What they discovered instead was that youngsters liked to let off steam to hardcore sounds, particularly if it had an emotionally charged or overtly political message behind it. One respondent said: “You can’t really jump your anger into the floor and listen to music at the same time with other types of music.”
Stuart Cadwallader of the University of Warwick, which conducted the survey, said heavy metal was found to provide a form of “catharsis”, particularly for those with low self-esteem.
They found the aggressive music a useful conduit for their frustrations and anger, according to the findings revealed at the British Psychological Society conference in York yesterday.
Mr. Cadwallader said this intellectual elite often found themselves facing situations and issues not encountered by less able students.
“Perhaps the pressure associated with being gifted and talented can be temporarily forgotten with the aid of music,” he said.