Hard rock and heavy metal music have been causing controversy since they were first invented, and many people believe the music to have a negative effect on young people. Music featuring distorted guitars, bass, drums and loud or screaming vocals can be thought of as “hard rock,” and bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest can be classified in this way. Parents are often concerned when their children begin listening to hard rock because of the aggressive sound and occasionally explicit lyrics. If you are concerned, investigate the possible negative effects of hard rock.
Many Christians, including a researcher and professor of theology from Andrews University, believe that rock music embodies a spirit of rebellion against God. Marilyn Manson said that when people listen to his album “Antichrist Superstar,” God may be destroyed in their heads. This shows that the message of some rock music is an anti-Christian one; however, just as Christians have the right to express their love for God, anti-Christians have the right to express their distaste. This may be construed as a negative effect of rock music, but all the rock music can do is expose people to a conflicting idea. Ultimately, they choose what they believe.
Rock Music and Sexual Arousal
Samuele Bacchiocchi, theology professor from Andews University, also states that rock music can cause sexual arousal. A study published in “Media Psychology” looked into this, and found that whilst music does increase arousal as compared to silence, classical music increased the skin conductance response and skin conductance level measured by the experiment similarly to rock music. The study found that fast-paced classical music had more of an effect on arousal than fast-paced rock music. This indicates that music in general, not rock music specifically, can cause arousal.
A researcher from the University of Missouri conducted a study into the effects of music on reckless behavior. The study found that adolescents who liked hard rock showed a higher level of reckless behavior, such as drug use, unprotected sex, casual sex, drunk driving, speeding and vandalism. Girls who listened to rock music were also found to have low self esteem. The researchers commented, however, that they believed that “sensation seeking” behavior was to blame for these acts, and not rock music. They noted an exception with regard to unprotected sex, but the theory remains that people who seek sensations, such as those provided by the acts listed above, are driven to rock music—rather than rock music causing the reckless behavior.
The most famous case linking rock music and suicide revolved around the band Judas Priest, and the allegation that the album “Stained Class” contained backward subliminal messages. The words “do it, do it” were said to be heard when certain sections were reversed. In 1986, James Vance shot himself, and the family alleged it was Judas Priest’s fault for including these messages in their songs. Prior to the incident, Vance had run away from home 13 times. He'd also tried to choke his mother at age 8, and had once threatened to shoot her with a loaded gun. The court found these factors to be responsible for Vance's attempted suicide, not rock music. The judge concluded that when you reverse songs, you may coincidentally find messages such as this, particularly if you are predisposed to finding them.
Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.