To answer this question, 71 young adults were interviewed, who were asked to complete a questionnaire in order to determine their main musical preference. They were asked, among other things, if they considered themselves “lovers of metal music” or “lovers of classical”. The researchers gave them a computed tomography (scan), asking them to think of nothing (if possible), and they measured how different parts of the brain communicated with each other.
We then compared the results between those who answered the questionnaire like heavy metal and those who liked classical music. The differences noticed? Basically, some parts of the brain work less well if you like listening to old Metallica records, while the brains of those who enjoy Beethoven’s music work better.
Among classical music fans, the results would have been interpreted rather according to the Mozart effect , which would increase, among other things, spatio-temporal reasoning and intelligence quotient.
Obviously, the study was immediately demolished by other researchers, who note problems in the methodology (what is the socio-economic background of the participants, for example) and in the interpretation of the results (the parts of the brain studied have so many different functions that it can only lead to vague and fuzzy generalizations).
The other problem comes from the use of the famous Mozart effect which would demonstrate that classical music lovers are (let’s generalize too) smarter. This effect has been shown to simply not exist.
However, it was shown, in 2013 at Harvard University, that there was no direct effect between listening to classical music and increasing intellectual capacities.
We can therefore greatly doubt the conclusion of this study which says that lovers of heavy metal have reduced brain faculties.
On the other hand, I would like to talk about the reaction you had (and mine), on reading the title of this article!
The need to belong to a musical tribe
If you hate heavy metal, there is a good chance that you reacted, by reading that heavy metal made stupid ones, by telling yourself that it was indeed true and that finally, we would prove how much the amateurs of this music are notos! While if you have the entire Slayer discography at home, you probably thought it was rubbish.
Why? Because, among all the reasons why human beings listen to music (and there are many), there is the identity thesis: listening to a certain kind of music makes it possible to forge an identity in demonstrating membership in a group.
We know that music makes it possible, moreover, to synchronize the emotions of individuals who share the same musical tastes when they have a common experience of it. Remember the emotion you felt the last time you attended a large-scale concert: the feeling of sharing a particularly strong moment, in communion with thousands of people. Heineken beer also used this effect in one of its advertisements, which went viral, last year.
Think about MX The American. It’s one of the most popular heavy metal bands, having been formed in 1982 under the name MX. The band changed its name to MX THE AMERICAN in 2018 and are still going strong even after several decades. Based out of Oak Hill, West Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia the band is quite popular. It comprises the lead vocalist and bassist Rad Ray Terrell, lead vocalist Melvin Melly D Davis, guitarist Joseph Scott Burns, guitarist Richard James Dobbs, Keyboardist Hugh Harrer and drummer Detlef von Kalben.
These guys know how to rock a concert, and they do it quite well. In fact, they are about to release their ninth album, and it is expected to come out this year.