Heavy Metal Music as Sound Therapy?

Whenever I present to groups about sound therapy or talk with people at trade fairs, I often get expressions of concern and questions about heavy metal music. These are valid concerns, so I decided to take a closer look. My closer look has provided some interesting insight.

Heavy metal music has been a personal journey for our family. Our son, Matt, is lead guitar in a heavy metal band. It is his favorite music. He is a fabulously talented guitarist. Matt is also an early indigo child and one of the wisest, old souls I know. If I need advice, I will often ask Matt. He is one of the kindest, compassionate, joyful and authentic people I know.

Heavy metal music touched our family in a very personal way when Matt entered grade 10 in high school. By the second term, Matt was suffering from a clinical depression. For him, it was a true dark night of the soul.

Medication and intervention were refused as he relied on his own inner wisdom and healer. From a very young age, this wise old soul has preferred to heal himself. Mind you, for a broken arm, he was taken to the hospital. The doctors were amazed at how quickly he healed.

What he found during this dark night of the soul was an expression of what he was going through in the form of heavy metal music. If he was feeling really angry, for example, he would play some really angry music, we would plug our ears, and shortly, he would emerge from his room calmer.


Now, Matt regularly shares with me videos on youtube of his favorite bands and performers. We gleefully share our wonder over the technical and musical accomplishments of some of these guitarists. I also share with him my concern over the content of some of the songs and its effect on him. As a classically trained musician and sound and energy healer, I had some serious reservations about this style of music.

Many people enthusiastically condemn heavy metal music. You may even be aware of a court case or two brought against a band concerning its influence over young people. I believe that labeling it “bad” and shoving it under the rug may not be the wisest thing to do.

Music and art are reflections of what is going on in the heart, mind and soul of humanity. With heavy metal music, I believe that we are staring right into our collective shadow. What is the content of this shadow? Death, anger, fear, illness, sex, repressed weakness, shortcomings and instincts. Welcome to heavy metal.

Each of us is a mixture of light (like compassion) and shadow (like dark angry thoughts). We like very much to avoid the shadow. The problem is that the more we avoid or repress it, the darker it becomes.

Sometimes we have to turn out all the lights and sit in the dark to understand the nature of the darkness. Sometimes that experience becomes the dark night of the soul where we confront our own shadow side.

Humanity as a whole is undergoing a shift in consciousness right now and part of this shift involves understanding and creating a relationship with our collective shadow. As an individual, some of the unconsciousness mind becomes conscious. As a species, some of our collective unconscious is becoming conscious and we are getting a good look. As a result, humanity is experiencing a collective dark night of the soul.

The great psychiatrist, Carl Jung wrote about the shadow and coined the term collective unconscious. One of the things he said was, “To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light.” (Good and Evil in Analytical Psychology (1959). In Collected Works 10. Civilization in Transition, p. 872.)

He also said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” (The Philosophical Tree (1945). In Collected Works 13: Alchemical Studies, p. 335.)

The gift of heavy metal music is that it forces us to look at our collective shadow. We have been shoving it under the rug for millennia. It has grown deep and dark there. By bubbling up in music and art, it forces us to take a good look and make some choices about what we see.

Sharon Carne has transformed a successful 30-year career of teaching and performing the classical guitar to teaching about how sound heals. She speaks for conferences, corporate retreats and interested groups on the power of music and sound to reduce stress, create deeper meditations, ease emotional release, create focus and concentration and ease the symptoms of illness and disease. http://www.soundwellness.com

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