by Quentin Singer
“The storm is coming, and I have a choice: to accept nature or lose my voice.” These were some of the last recorded lyrics of As I Lay Dying frontman, Tim Lambesis, which come from the band’s last, and thought to be final record, Awakened (2012). This lyrical phrase reeks of irony, regardless of the metaphorical intent. The “storm” Tim foreshadowed came true, along with his acceptance of the said storm’s consequence. In spring of 2013, Tim Lambesis was arrested for attempting to murder his estranged wife, Meggan Murphy. Fortunately, the attempt was an utter failure, as Tim hired an undercover cop (disguised as a hit-man) whom he thought could kill his wife. Resulting in a six-year prison sentence, the dismantling of As I lay Dying, and a traumatized wife and mother of three, Tim’s actions have gone down as one of most malicious controversies in rock history. Forming a new band under the name Wovenwar, it was clear that the other band members were moving on from Tim and the havoc he had caused, as they had nothing to do with his actions. However, serving an abbreviated prison sentence (two of six years), Tim was released on parole in December of 2016, ultimately raising curiosity about whether he would start the band again or not, but with all new members (as he was the founder of As I Lay Dying).
As of last Thursday, June 7th, the metal community has been absolutely polarized, more specifically, the fanbase of As I Lay Dying. The band has officially returned with not only Tim Lambesis at the forefront, but has reunited with all its members (Nick, Josh, Phil, and Jordan), and they even released their first song/music video in over five years entitled “My Own Grave.” Confused, excited, disappointed, and enraged have been the predominant reactions to this news, and it has made everyone question why and how this all happened? How were the previous bandmates convinced to reunite with Tim? Should we give Tim Lambesis a second chance? One of the most mind boggling parts is the circumstance which lead to the band’s reunion. Meggan (Tim’s ex) was said to be a really good friend of the other bandmates, and they even showed their support for her during the initial court case. People are speculating that Meggan had a possible role in the decision for the band members to reunite, whether she gave the other bandmates her blessing to continue, or if she actually forgave Tim. Some also think the other members were motivated financially to rejoin the band, especially considering that their other project (Wovenwar) would never come close to the success of As I Lay Dying. This speculation means nothing in the end, as the band has yet to release an official statement addressing the public concern and backlash. On June 11th, the band did engage their social media followers with a very brief message:
“It’s difficult to encapsulate all of the topics we want to address with a written statement. We understand there are many questions and we plan to address them this week.”
Assuming the band releases their statement this week, fans will determine if As I Lay Dying are still a band that they can listen to and support, but some people have already made up their mind. Being a longtime fan of the group, it’s very difficult for me to enjoy their latest track without being reminded of the damage Tim has caused. I also feel that this is the point of the song (“My Own Grave“). The lyrical content of the track is clearly directed toward Tim himself, as he states “there’s no one else to blame” for his actions other than himself. Putting out music before any official statement might have been the band’s way of letting the music speak for itself, as it implies Tim’s moral change and rehabilitation. Whether this was the best way of announcing their return or not is up to the public, but the band’s lack of answers has already been a detriment to their fanbase. One of the most intriguing aspects of this controversy is the age old question it raises: can you separate the art from the artist? There might not be a definite answer for this question as it varies depending on the artist, but as someone who considers himself a diehard As I Lay Dying fan, it’s hard for me to say whether or not I can support this band. I’m hopeful to receive some clarity on the matter when the band releases their official statement. The band is scheduled for their first reunion show this Saturday, June 16th, and hopefully we’ll get some answers from the band before then.
UPDATED: The band has released a 30 minute video discussing how/why they’ve reunited.
Can you separate the art from the artist? Let us know what you think in the comments below!