This Week In Metal (20/7/15 - 26/7/15)

Metalheads are cleverer than pop fans! Not our words, the words of a Cambridge University scientific research project (kind of). The study of 4000 people concluded that those who seek to analyse rules and patterns in the world – dubbed ‘systemisers’ – are more likely to be fans of heavy metal, punk and hard rock (and avant garde jazz) than people who focus more on emotion and empathy; these softies tend to prefer “more mellow, low-energy music” like pop, R&B, Coldplay or folk. Participants in the survey completed psychological questionnaires designed to assess which of these cognitive categories they fell into, and were then played 50 pieces of music spanning 26 genres, rating each out of 10.

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“Although people’s music choices fluctuates over time, we’ve discovered a person’s empathy levels and thinking style predicts what kind of music they like,” said David Greenberg from Cambridge’s Department of Psychology. “In fact, their cognitive style – whether they’re strong on empathy or strong on systems – can be a better predictor of what music they like than their personality.” The study’s senior author Dr Jason Rentfrow adds: “This line of research highlights how music is a mirror of the self. Music is an expression of who we are emotionally, socially, and cognitively,” while team member Professor Simon Baron-Cohen suggests “The research may help us understand those at the extremes, such as people with autism, who are strong systemisers.” So in addition to the recent survey which found that metal fans are happier, it turns out we’re brainier as well; 2015 is a proving to be a good year for the smug metalhead.

All those headbanging systemisers are likely to be a bit miffed that Phil Anselmo has abandoned plans to release an autobiography. Provisionally entitled Mouth For War: Pantera And Beyond, Anselmo’s tome was to be an “upbeat” assessment of his time in the band, but after reading ex-bassist Rex’s take on the subject Phil elected to scrap all the work he’s done on it thus far. “After reading Rex Brown’s Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story Of Pantera and then all that’s been said about Pantera, I don’t want to do it right now,” insisted the Down and Superjoint frontman. “I’m not so sure that I want the rest of the world knowing all my business. There’s got to be some limit or line. Maybe somewhere down the line, hopefully, 30 years from now, if I’m that fucking lucky, or if I’m on my deathbed, then I’ll speak and spout it out and tell everybody.” He explained that penning a retrospective on his former band felt like a backward step: “It just doesn’t feel noble, it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel true to me. What feels true to me is moving forward in life and doing different shit and doing creative shit and being the best asshole I can be moving forward.”

Talking of ‘different shit’ and ‘creative shit’: Iggy Pop as an angel called Vicious and Henry Rollins as an evil priest?! No it’s not a bad dream, it’s details of a forthcoming movie billed by the producers as “the loudest silent movie on Earth.” Set for release early next year, Gutterdammerung is described by director Bjorn Tagemose as “set in a world where God has saved the world by taking from mankind the Devil’s ‘Grail of Sin’ – the Evil Guitar. From Heaven a punk-angel, Vicious, looks upon the world with weary eyes. He sends the Devil’s guitar back to Earth – and sin returns to mankind. An evil puritan priest, Rollins, manipulates a naive girl into retrieving the guitar to destroy it. On her quest she’s forced to face the world’s most evil rock ’n’ roll bastards. She has a rival in the form of a rock chick, determined to stop her.” Screenings will be accompanied by a live band and a narrator, while unorthodox Bond girl Grace Jones and Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes are also set to appear. Rollins, also the film’s co-writer, says: “It’s primarily a visual experience, with very little dialogue. It’s not a film you see in the traditional way – you’ll be standing up for this experience.” Hughes added: “It’s not a rockumentary, it’s not a fucking Spinal Tap, it’s the real fucking deal. It’s the craziest fucking story you’ll ever see in a theatre.”

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.