As I Lay Dying to invigorate the Attic
By Nick Schwab
Hitting the listener with blunt force trauma, the attack of As I Lay Dying is obeisantly a metal band. However, if one were to make an incision into the heart or the brain of the lyrics, it would reveal the San Diego, Calif. act to be much more than their growled vocals, furious bass, unapologetic drums and that robust twin-guitar melee. Despite their long-haired headbanger front, one may think of them as a refreshing flipside to normal genre conventions.
A listener might not know this before delving into their lyrics, but As I Lay Dying defines themselves as a Christian band. However, unlike some bands that seem to proselytize their beliefs down your throat, these lads do not really aim to convert you as much as they just try to search for life’s meaning.
While the listener may not always agree with their philosophies, vocalist Tim Lambesis says that As I Lay Dying’s lyrics work as a diary of his life experiences leading up to each album.
“All the albums collectively tie together my personal beliefs that will influence anything that I do,” he described. “I don’t write ‘Christian’ lyrics. I try to write about things that I am experiencing. But as it is a belief of mine, it comes out in different ways.”
While Lambesis says that since his music and his beliefs cannot often be separated, they thus blend into each other much of the time. Yet he does cite a downside to making music in a genre that is often known for its non-religious views.
“A lot of people expect us to be a stereotypical Christian band and might not listen to us as a result,” he said. “I think, stereotypically, metalheads are pretty closed-minded, (but) they are becoming more open minded.”
Lambesis believes that over time, listeners are beginning to get a bit tired of the genre being dark for no other reason than to be depressing, disturbing or ominous. “People want something a little more meaningful in their lives,” he said.
However, as mentioned before, the singer also thinks that the religious element does not restrict the enjoyment of As I Lay Dying.
“The approach I have is ultimately something anybody can relate to. We are definitely not the stereotype of a very preachy band,” he said. “For the people who have a religious background or want to look at the lyrics spiritually, they can interpret them in that way. Yet, the people who are not religious can read a different meaning.”
Songs off their most recent record, “The Powerless Rise,” show that As I Lay Dying are not the kind of band to take anything sitting down. There is a rage in its heart equal to that in the classic metal tradition in such songs as “Anger and Apathy.”
In it, Lambesis sings, “I need to know that feelings of discontent are stronger/Than indifference for those too weak to stand … Until our anger burns against injustice, we will create/ The faceless by dismissing those forced to concede.”
As with these lyrics, one sees that the genre is still often thought to be a counter-culture movement. Lyrically, As I Lay Dying has a place in that rabble-rousing way of thinking, as Lambesis explains.
“In a culture or society very dominated by materialism, I think our music stands in pretty noticeable contrast to that,” he said, and gets into describing the topics behind that 2010 album.
“A lot of it deals with the powerless world,” Lambesis said. “The powerless parts of society, whether it be the poor or the repressed, the rise of the people that have been forgotten.”
The record is also very diverse in the emotions that they are trying to capture and convey. Lambesis passionately references its element of humanness in that some of the songs are catchy and positive, while others are pretty dark and depressing. In other words, as he says, it has its “ups and downs” – a lot like a human being.
“My goal is to create music that I am passionate about and that is honest,” the front man said. “I just want to do something that comes naturally to me, and that I love and enjoy doing – fans are able to grab onto that passion and hear it in our music.”
Lambesis said that while he wants to be honest to himself in his art, he wants his listeners to be as well.
“I think the most important thing that I could ask of a person is to listen to our music and figure it out for themselves,” he said. “[Do that] instead of making a judgment based on a lot of things that people do to judge and categorize music.”
With that last, honest sentiment and thought-provoking belief how can not one at least give As I Lay Dying a chance? If you don’t you may just be missing out.
As I Lay Dying will play at The Attic on Saturday, Feb. 19. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $18 and $22. For more information, visit www.theatticclub.com or call (937) 297-9634.
Reach DCP freelance writer Nick Schwab at email@example.com.