By now, you know the backstory. Tim Lambesis was sentenced to six years imprisonment in May 2014 on a felony charge of solicitation of murder after attempting to hire a hitman to kill his then-wife. He served about two and a half years and was released right at the end of 2016, and has since remarried. We covered this story exhaustively in 2013 and 2014.
To be clear, Tim Lambesis attempted to hire somebody to murder his wife. It doesn't matter that the hitman was an undercover cop, he still tried to do it. If it wasn't an undercover cop, he would've succeeded in ending a life. It's hard to forget something like this.
After Lambesis' release, he began to tease activity with As I Lay Dying. Lambesis published a lengthy apology to his fans, bandmates and his family. An excerpt:
Words cannot begin to express how deeply sorry I am for the hurt that I have caused. There is no defense for what I did, and I look back on the person I became with as much disdain as many of you likely do.
First, I apologize to my former wife and remarkable children for my appalling actions. There’s not a single day that goes by where I don’t wish I could undo the damage I caused, and out of respect for their wishes I will not discuss anything else about them (now or in the future). I also ask anyone reading this to promote healing for them by respecting their privacy and defending them from any negativity or anger which should be directed towards me. I was the sole offender and the only one to blame for everything that happened.
He ended the apology with this note (emphaisis ours):
I do not feel deserving of a second chance and am not asking for anyone’s trust. The way many people feel about me makes sense, and only time will tell if my future actions line up with my remorse, something I pray for every day. In the last five years, the ripple effect of all my actions has extended further than a written statement can address. Thus, I will continue to apologize in both words and actions moving forward.
We hadn't heard from Lambesis since this apology, until last week, when As I Lay Dying updated their social media with a teaser. At the time, you couldn't see exactly who was playing in the band, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out it was the classic lineup. It was a shock, because just two years ago, guitarist Nick Hipa said in an interview:
"It’s sad to see somebody that we spent so much of our lives with end up in such a place,” says Hipa of the recent development. “He could have made such a great impact on this world, but he just gave in to the worst parts of himself. Even more discouraging for me is the fact that he’s trying to file a lawsuit for that amount. It says to me he’s still the same sort of personality at his core; nothing has changed. He thinks of himself a certain way, and he thinks of himself in a situation he created as a victim."
So, what changed?
All week long, I had been speculating with friends inside the industry about who would possibly take this band on. What publicist would agree to send out their press releases? Who would ever agree to tour with them? What label would agree to release this music? Metal Blade, the band's label for their previous releases, would not offer any comment when asked if they were involved. Yesterday, the single was released. We got a jump on the story based on a tip that the song had already been released in Japan, where it was technically Friday.
I assumed that Metal Injection got ahead of the narrative, and that all would be explained the next morning with the official release of the track. Then, at around 6pm eastern last night, the band just posted the music video on their official Facebook and Youtube page without any sort of message.
At the time, I figured, 'Oh well they're just trying to get ahead of the leaks. All will be explained in the morning when the official press release goes out.' As I am writing this, it is now Friday afternoon and no official press release has gone out. At this point, it's safe to assume there won't be a press release. As I Lay Dying decided to let their music do the talking.
This is a mistake.
While there are a lot of people, and I mean a lot of fans, fine with just moving on and forgiving Lambesis because they are just thirsty for some new music. Meggan Lambesis is not somebody they know or care for, so they can easily move past this one little thing to listen to a band they grew up on. Yet, there is still a very large portion of the community that is not okay with this. Namely, people inside the music industry.
Our friends at MetalSucks took a strong stance yesterday, noting they would no longer cover As I Lay Dying. It's something we've been discussing internally at Metal Injection. While most of the industry is keeping relatively quiet, some are speaking up. The most vicious criticism came from outspoken Sumerian Records founder Ash Avildsen:
Jamey Jasta took a more level-headed approach (after deleting a more provocative tweet on the matter)
But he made sure to emphasis that he does not forgive Lambesis:
I ultimately agree with Jasta – all the instrumentalists in the band are very nice people, I've hung out with them on numerous occasions, but their silence is a bad look. As Jasta pointed out, the only way to forgive Tim is if his ex-wife and kids forgive him.
Optimistically, I was hoping that there would be some statement from Meggan or something from the band expressing they had her blessing to continue. But, clearly there is no such blessing or statement. This leads people to presume and speculate. It would be easy to presume that Meggan knew nothing of this, and likely just wants to move on with her life.
But what about the rest of the band? For years, they talked about how Tim wronged them and then they just forgave him at some point this year, likely in February, based on when social medias went dark. But, shouldn't the fans know why you decided to forgive him? Shouldn't there be some sort of explanation? "Bury me in my own grave." is a lyric not an explanation. This isn't just another album cycle, to build hype. This is a serious situation.
For what it's worth, I heard there are no plans for an album as of now, they just wrote the single, and self-released it. Although, based on the message on certain Youtube takedowns of the leak yesterday, they are clearly working with a major distributor.
Maybe the reason there is no explanation is because what we see on the surface is exactly what it is. Everybody ran out of money, as George Lynch revealed, and just wanted to get back to what worked. Perhaps they felt they didn't need to explain themselves and just decided if fans wanted to abandon them for it, they were okay with it.
Lambesis ended his apology note with "I will continue to apologize in both words and actions moving forward," yet just releasing a music video and expecting people to just move on is the complete opposite of what he promised to do. It's a bad look for him, and a bad look for the band. The band play their first live show since this ordeal next week. Will they offer some answers then? Will it be too late?
Update: Shortly after this editorial went live Sumerian founder Ash Avildsen chimed in on Twitter with a thread, echoing our statements here.