This is the Final Time You Will Read About As I Lay Dying On MetalSucks
Imagine if four or five years from now, after serving time in prison for rape and sexual assault, Harvey Weinstein tried to come back and make a new film. Or if Bill Cosby started touring the standup circuit again. Hell, imagine that just a few years from now, Donald Trump and NBC were to revive The Apprentice.
Would you support them?
Although these examples are hypothetical, the issue they raise is one every metal fan actually has to confront immediately. Because thus far, the metal community’s reaction to what appears to be a reunion of all or most of As I Lay Dying’s classic line-up has sent a horrible message to the world at large:
“Breakdowns > human lives.”
To wit: this morning, the band’s new single leaked online (look it up if you must — we’re not going to include it here), and the Internet’s reaction has been largely celebratory:
Never mind that absolutely ZERO high-profile musicians have taken to social media today to dare speak their true feelings, lest they burn bridges in the industry, or, GASP!, risk being counted out of a coveted opening slot on As I Lay Dying’s blockbuster “comeback” tour. Few of these comments even mention the fact that the whole reason As I Lay Dying broke up in the first place was because frontman Tim Lambesis committed a crime… which, if you need to be reminded, was TO TRY AND HAVE HIS WIFE MURDERED. He took real, concrete steps to pay a man to kill Meggan Lambesis, and he ultimately failed only as a result of his own ineptitude.
Can you imagine if Lambesis had been successful? A woman would have been murdered in cold blood, and the couple’s children, who are completely innocent in all of this, would have been robbed of their mother and left in the care of their delusional father.
“But Axl and Vince,” you say, “doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? Hasn’t MetalSucks always taken that very position?” Of course everyone deserves a second chance. Tim Lambesis served his time as deemed appropriate by our legal system, he publicly took responsibility for his actions, and now he can begin again.
But here’s the thing: the fact that Lambesis isn’t in jail right now? That IS his second chance. He’s a free man! He may be getting or has already gotten remarried! Our penal system has federal, state, and local assistance and reentry programs to help him find work and reintegrate into society (a privilege not bestowed upon those locked up for years but ultimately found innocent, by the way). He attempted to extinguish a life; he should be grateful to have as much as he does. Our government’s ICE agents are now entrapping and deporting thousands of people for less despicable crimes, cold-heartedly separating parents from their children. Why does Lambesis get to release new music, tour the world, and have heaps of praise doted upon him? (“What is ‘privilege,’ Alex.”)
Granted, metal is not the only fandom to ultimately look the other way on heinous crimes in order to have one of its precious heroes back (hello, NFL fans). Society as a whole is, frankly, disgusting.
But isn’t metal supposed to hold itself to a higher standard – of musicianship, surely, but also of ethics? What other genre of music places as much emphasis on who is ‘true’ and who is ‘false,’ on who ‘sold out’ and who followed their authentic creative desires? Folk music in the 1960s, maybe?
We understand wanting to be able to accept As I Lay Dying back into the world. One of their guitarists, Nick Hipa, has been a longtime friend and supporter of MetalSucks, and generally speaking we think the world of him. He has an industry-wide reputation as one of the nicest dudes in all of metal, and with good reason. And it’s not fair that he and the other musicians in As I Lay Dying should have years of their hard work tossed away because of the lunatic actions of one member, and it’s not fair that that one member should own the As I Lay Dying brand, forcing the other men in the group to have to start over again with Wovenwar, who surely brought in less income than AILD. They deserve to work, as do the people who made As I Lay Dying possible behind the scenes (Metal Blade Records, As I Lay Dying’s most recent record label, has declined to comment for this piece).
But that does not make it okay to tacitly endorse Tim’s behavior. The cast and crew on Roseanne stood to lose work as a result of Roseanne Barr’s actions, but ABC cut the show anyway. Unfair or not, them’s the breaks. All those people will work again just as the other members of As I Lay Dying worked without Lambesis (and could have continued doing so).
The only compelling argument one could make in favor of the As I Lay Dying reunion would be if Meggan Lambesis were to forgive Tim. That would change everything. It’s hard to imagine that his victim is anything but devastated that scores of fans will now be celebrating a man who conspired to kill her. Perhaps she has moved on, but unless that proves to the case it’s very premature for anyone else to let Tim off the hook. Meggan should be the one in the driver’s seat here, the ultimate arbiter of forgiveness, not the other members of the band, and certainly not their fans.
What it comes down to, ultimately, is this: how does the metal community want to portray ourselves to the world? As people who let anyone get away with anything so long as they continue to write sick riffs? Think about what sending that message says about you: “I value a catchy tune that reminds me of my teenage years more than I value other human lives.” That’s not a dramatic exaggeration. That is literally what it means to support Lambesis. To be clear, we’re not saying that you have to throw out your As I Lay Dying CD collection. Go ahead and do so if you want, but it’s certainly possible for you to enjoy the band’s old material with a clear conscience. We didn’t know, and by all accounts, Tim didn’t change into a monster until later in the band’s career, anyway.
So this is where MetalSucks and As I Lay Dying part ways for good. We’re sure there will be no shortage of other media outlets that will continue to cover the band… but you should give serious reflection to why you’ve even allowed yourself to care about their comeback in the first place.