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Sci-Tech

Data science compiles list of 'most metal' words, and it's a beast

If you want to sound like you just stepped out of a Slayer show, prattle on about demons, flames and ashes (but maybe don't use the word prattle).

Are you a fan of Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath who wants to show your metal mettle? Don't use the words "particularly," fiscal" or "chairman" too much, but be sure to toss around "burn," "veins" and "beasts" more.

The data scientist behind the blog Degenerate State analyzed lyrics to 222,623 songs from 7,364 metal bands spread over 22,314 albums. He then compiled lists of the top 20 "most metal" English words, and the 20 words least likely to pop up in a Judas Priest catalog.

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"Metal lyrics seem focused on 'time' and 'life,' with a healthy dose of 'blood,' 'pain' and 'eyes' thrown in," the data scientist, who simply goes by the name Iain, explains in a post. "Even without knowing much about the genre, this is what you might expect."

Conversely, if you want to hide your metal-loving side, be sure to talk about the "administrative" or "literary" "committee" at the "university." But don't expect your co-workers to offer you an extra ticket to that Metallica concert if you do.

Iain, a former physicist, started his inquiry at Dark Lyrics, "the largest metal lyrics archive on the Web," and then compared the relative frequency of words that appear in metal lyrics to the English language in general.

That second subset came from the Brown Corpus, "the first of the modern, computer readable, general corpora." The collection mines English-language documents that contain 500 samples of text, totaling roughly 1 million words. It does not include lyrics.

The blog appeared in April, but a post on NYMag.com's Science of Us section last week got people singing about the lists, which you can see below. Now if you'll please excuse me, I have a guitar to smash.

'Most metal' songs

1. burn

2. cries

3. veins

4. eternity

5. breathe

6. beast

7. gonna

8. demons

9. ashes

10. soul

11. sorrow

12. sword

13. goodbye

14. dreams

15. gods

16. pray

17. reign

18. tear

19. flames

20. scream

'Least metal' songs

1. particularly

2. indicated

3. secretary

4. committee

5. university

6. relatively

7. noted

8. approximately

9. chairman

10. employees

11. attorney

12. membership

13. administrative

14. considerable

15. academic

16. literary

17. agencies

18. measurements

19. fiscal

20. residential