DEATH ANGEL Music Used In Psychological Study

August 16, 2010

For decades research has shown that listening to music alleviates anxiety and depression, enhances mood, and can increase cognitive functioning, such as spatial awareness. However, until now, research has not addressed how we listen to music. For instance, is the cognitive benefit still the same if we listen to music while performing a task, rather than before it? Further, how does our preference for a particular type of music affect performance? A new study from Applied Cognitive Psychology shows that listening to music that one likes whilst performing a serial recall task does not help performance any more than listening to music one does not enjoy.

The researchers explored the "irrelevant sound effect" by requiring participants to perform serial recall (recall a list of eight consonants in presentation order) in the presence of five sound environments: quiet, liked music (e.g., RIHANNA, LADY GAGA, STRANGLERS and ARCADE FIRE),disliked music (the track "Thrashers" by DEATH ANGEL),changing-state (a sequence of random digits such as "4, 7, 1, 6") and steady-state ("3, 3, 3"). Recall ability was approximately the same, and poorest, for the music and changing-state conditions. The most accurate recall occurred when participants performed the task in the quieter, steady-state environments. Thus listening to music, regardless of whether people liked or disliked it, impaired their concurrent performance.

Lead researcher Nick Perham explains: "The poorer performance of the music and changing-state sounds are due to the acoustical variation within those environments. This impairs the ability to recall the order of items, via rehearsal, within the presented list. Mental arithmetic also requires the ability to retain order information in the short-term via rehearsal, and may be similarly affected by their performance in the presence of changing-state, background environments."

Although music can have a very positive effect on our general mental health, music can, in the circumstances described, also have negative effects on cognitive performance. Perham remarks, "Most people listen to music at the same time as, rather than prior to performing a task. To reduce the negative effects of background music when recalling information in order one should either perform the task in quiet or only listen to music prior to performing the task."

Perham explained his reasoning for using DEATH ANGEL's song "Thrashers" as the "disliked" music in the study: "We needed a track that most participants would say they did not like. Having been a fan of metal music since my teens, I was pretty confident that a thrash metal song would do the trick as most people never seemed to like the music I liked. In choosing a thrash metal song, I needed a song that was heavy but also allowed the listener to hear many of the different components of the song — the acoustical variation between the successive sound items. We chose 'Thrashers'. Participants were only allowed to participate in the study if they disliked thrash metal as a musical genre.

"Personally, I have been a fan of DEATH ANGEL since 'The Ultra-Violence' and saw them at the Bristol Bierkeller around 1990 supporting the 'Act III' album."

This study is published in the September 2010 issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Nick Perham is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. He has published and presented widely on the effects of auditory distraction on short-term memory and general task performance.

Fan-filmed video footage of DEATH ANGEL performing a new song, "River Of Rapture", on April 6, 2010 at Rio's in Leeds, England can be viewed below (courtesy of Dave Ingham a.k.a. YouTube user "triptykon").

"River Of Rapture" will appear on DEATH ANGEL's new album "Relentless Retribution", which will be released on September 3 in Europe and September 14 in the U.S. via Nuclear Blast Records. The CD was recorded at Audiohammer Studios in Sanford, Florida with producer Jason Suecof (TRIVIUM, AUGUST BURNS RED, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, ALL THAT REMAINS, WHITECHAPEL, DEVILDRIVER). The cover artwork was created by Brent Elliot White (JOB FOR A COWBOY, CARNIFEX, WHITECHAPEL) and can be viewed below.

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