So why Metal? I mean really. Why do I listen to metal? Well here’s something I noticed. Rap music makes me depressed.
I have, and always have had extremely eclectic musical tastes. But rap makes me depressed and metal makes me happy. Is this because of the content of the music?
Rap is, for the most part, very aspirational and tends to be focused on acquisition, potential riches and triumph over problems. Metal tends to be pretty self-hating and destructive. So erm… I doubt it’s the content. So what is it?
When I was a kid I listened to metal because i really looked up to my oldest brother and he listened to stuff like Metallica, Megadeth, Napalm Death, Slayer. The list goes on. I remember feeling a certain amount of acceptance from my brother when I expressed an enjoyment of the music he liked.
When I was 16 I was pretty consistently happy for about the first time in my life and that period of my life was very much focused around music. Around that time was the nu metal revolution and the rise of bands like slipknot and my circle of friends were very much into that.
So the associated memories in those particularly emotionally turbulent formative years stuck to the music I was listening to pretty hard.
Conversely, when I was about 13 I was about the most unhappy I had ever been.
Ostracised from my peers, a collapsing family life and what seemed like endless problem after problem. During that time as I had started listening to Eminem and other rappers. I had taken to listening to them all the time. And while I enjoyed them at the time and still do enjoy them now, if I listen to them for any prolonged period of time I do get functionally depressed.
So the link between the music and the mood isn’t really the content of the music. But the context through which its viewed, the perceptual lens through which all things are viewed, the culmination of experience remembered and forgotten.