If you give people enough time, they’ll make an academic study about anything. In fact, that recently happened, as two guys from the National Institute on Drug Abuse have released a study about Black Sabbath and drugs. Yep, the band who’s singer took acid every day for two years and authors of songs like “Sweet Leaf” and “Snowblind.” Their findings, however, aren’t quite as metal as you might think.
Dr. Kevin COnway, who’s an expert in drug use trends, linked up with Dr. Patrick McGrain of Bynedd Mercy University’s Department of Criminal Justice for the study. In it, they analyzed lyrics of 156 Sabbath songs across all 19 of their albums. They found that only 13% of the songs in their catalog referenced drugs, but of them, 60% of them were negative. On the other hand, a study finds that drug references have gone up in hip-hop and pop music, and if you’ve listened to The Weeknd or Lana Del Ray, you’ve heard many a drug reference. Here’s the study’s conclusion:
Contrary to the notion that heavy metal music glorifies or encourages substance use (Record Labeling, United States Senate, 1985), Black Sabbath’s lyrics as a whole weave a cautionary tale of how persistent substance use can hijack free will, become the dominant focus of the affected individual, and produce myriad forms of human misery. The insidiousness of chronic substance use depicted by the lyrics mirrors findings from natural-history studies of individuals with substance use disorders and aligns with neurobiological heuristics of addiction.
There you have it. We suggest that they not look into stoner rock.