"Death metal" music may be full of disturbing lyrics about cannibalism, torture and child murder, but it does not inspire violence, psychologists say.


(CBS Local) — “Death metal” music may be full of disturbing lyrics about cannibalism, torture and child murder, but it does not inspire violence, psychologists say. Macquarie University’s music lab looked at how metal music fans react to pictures of violence compared to a control group.

Researchers used the lyrics of death metal band Bloodbath’s cannibalism-themed track, “Eaten,” in a psychological test and found that death metal fans are not “desensitized” to violent imagery, according to the findings published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

“[Death metal] fans are nice people,” said Professor Bill Thompson, from the Australian University who headed the study. “They’re not going to go out and hurt someone.”

Thirty-two fans and 48 non-fans were asked to listen to death metal or to pop while looking at unpleasant images. To test the impact of different types of music, they also used a track they deemed to be the opposite of “Eaten.”

“We used ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams as a [comparison],” lead researcher Yanan Sun said.

Each participant was played “Happy” or “Eaten” through headphones, while they were shown a pair of images — one showed a violent scene, the other showed something innocuous.

“We don’t have any issue with it,” Bloodbath’s lead singer Nick Holmes told BBC News. “The lyrics are harmless fun, as the study proved.”

Thompson said the findings should be “reassuring to parents or religious groups” concerned about violent music.