Some disturbing news came out a week ago about the front man of one of my favorite bands: Tim Lambesis from As I lay Dying and Austrian Death Machine was caught soliciting an undercover detective into killing his wife. While, I understand that, in the US, one is innocent until proven guilty, the evidence seems very staggering in this case. I have been reading various message boards and blogs about this particular event and I feel like I want to chime in on something that might go down as one of the biggest scandals in Christian music history.
Before we continue, I would like to mention a couple of things. Like I’ve said before in other articles, I am a Christian who loves metal music and, thus, I am not going to take a prude’s approach to Christian metal or metal music as a whole. In addition, I am not in any way shape or form going to question Lambesis’ salvation as has been discussed ad nauseum on different message boards. That is all between God and him. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at what lesson we can learn from this whole mess as Christians
When it comes to circumstances such as these, I am a person who likes to look at the whole picture and looking at the events leading up to the eventual arrest, one can see a perfect example of the spiritual battle of God versus the devil and how the devil can overpower us if we’re not careful. Let’s begin our study in the Word with 1 Peter 5:8 which states, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The devil is always looking to destroy us and how does he do it, but by watching our habits and knowing what can get to us.
Metal heads, Christian or otherwise, like to sugar coat some bands and tendencies of the genre by saying, “Oh, that band is not really satanic, it’s just the aesthetic,” or “It’s all a joke, the Satanism expressed is meant to be ironic.” This sentiment is just utterly ridiculous. No matter how serious one’s satanic imagery is meant to be, the devil will use it just the same. The same goes for other metal tendencies in the realm of murder, excess, violence, and sex. When someone fully immerses themselves in that world, they will never come out unscathed.
The preceding paragraph highlights many of the reasons Christian metal is so appealing to the Christian as the genre tends to eliminate many of the themes put out by metal bands. However, many of the biggest Christian metal bands have become just as popular as their secular counterparts and have enjoyed much crossover success. This success, I believe presents a problem in the long run. Gone are the days when Christian and secular bands would play different shows at different venues. Now, Christian bands will usually tour with secular and, in many cases, “satanic” bands co-headlining and what not.
I can just point to a tour like Sounds of the Underground Tour where Christian bands, As I Lay Dying and The Chariot, toured with the noted Bible burning and destroying band, Behemoth, and Gwar, whose stage show is definitely not a Billy Graham crusade. While this is but one example, you might say, this type of tour lineup has become common place in the metal world. One can’t say that eventually the metal lifestyle led by the latter two bands does not eventually rub off on Christian bands however slight the influence is. Plus, the partying lifestyle of the typical metal band lends itself to where instant gratification is the norm with booze, drugs, and women. I can’t imagine how many temptations Christian bands have to turn down each and every night.
Now, this brings us back to Lambesis and the topic at hand. What can we learn from all of this? Well, I will say the last few months have been ominous, to say the least. When As I Lay Dying’s newest album, Awakened, was released in September 2012, many fans questioned the darker tone of the album. In addition, about seven months ago, fans were contemplating what the lyrics to “A Greater Foundation” could mean coming from a Christian band and Lambesis came out with an extremely vague and questionable response on his personal tumblr. This caused many fans to question his Christianity. I, on the other hand, can relate to many things he said on the tumblr, but still I am puzzled by its ambiguity and dancing around the subject.
Another warning sign came through his death metal project, Pyrithion, as some fans went so far as to call the album “satanic.” Iwouldn’t go to that extreme as I have read the lyrics and there is no worshipping of the devil or anything of that nature. However, Rest in the Arms of a Paralyzed Beast, is a far cry from anything Lambesis wrote for As I Lay Dying as the song seems to obviously question God’s existence. The artwork on the EP’s cover left much to be desired. Allegations of an anti-Christian bent to the band became so rampant, that at the end of April, Lambesis put out a Youtube video defending himself. Again his defense was very ambiguous in terms of Christianity.
What I see in Tim Lambesis is a Christian who got too caught up in the metal scene which eventually led to his downfall. Most likely, his intentions were pure in bringing Christianity to a place where it had rarely gone before. To that end, he succeeded in that many metal heads were reached by God and many Christians were able to have an outlet. However, run with the wolves long enough and you will get bitten.
I once heard that the difference between God and the devil is what’s best for you and what’s good for you. What does this mean? God always wants what’s best for you. His way is always the best and right way. The devil tempts you with what’s good for you. The devil will rarely blindside you with the most evil thing at the time because you would never accept it. He has to take chunks out of you with temptation as you continually give in until your fall is complete. Sadly, we got to see this fall first hand and in the case of a Christian leader such as Lambesis, he fell hard because the devil has to make an example.