The Price of Redemption: Forgiveness For Sale

Tim Lambesis at Mayhem Fest 2012

So here’s some news I’m sure you have all heard by now: Tim Lambesis is free. And a bit more than that, actually. He has new music available. With his former band, As I Lay Dying. Only a year after his release from prison. And since we’re on the topic, he was imprisoned for conspiring to commit murder.

Tim Lambesis made headlines some time ago for hiring a hitman to murder his wife. The hitman, turns out, was fake. A sting operation set forth to apprehend him. And in his attempt to hire that hitman, he was recorded. Stated that he wanted his wife dead. And that he intended to hire the hitman to murder her. He then provided the undercover agent with a thousand bucks cash, his wife and children’s schedules, along with his residence’s security codes. That was in May of 2013. It destroyed As I Lay Dying and, you would think, Lambesis too.

He was convicted and sentenced to six years in jail. His marriage was dissolved. He served two a half years of that sentence and in December of 2016, he was released. Five months after that, he remarried. To the woman he was having an affair with at the end of his marriage, by the way. Fast forward another six months after that, and we have new a new As I Lay Dying single. Which came as a shock to me, because I have followed this entire situation rather closely. And the rest of As I Lay Dying; being Nick Hipa, Jordan Mancino, Josh Gilbert and Phil Sgrosso, had severed ties with the band’s name, the legacy and anything else connected to Lambesis. Rather than hire a new vocalist, they started a new band named Wovenwar. Things escalated one step further when Nick Hipa stated in a social media post that Lambesis was a ‘sociopathic narcissist in definite need for rehabilitation.’ There are numerous quotes from those band members where they stated their want and need to distance themselves from Lambesis and the band name as a whole. Especially since they all were close, by their words, and nearly all familial. So Lambesis had not only offended his own family, but the other band members by attempting to murder someone they all truly adored and loved.

…Which makes me call a bit of bullshit since the entire band is back together and releasing music so soon after his release. And Wovenwar is quietly becoming very, very dead. This smells like money. Lots of it. So I did some digging. Turns out, according to guitarist George Lynch’s daughter who was engaged to Nick Hipa, Lambesis penned not only a major record deal with Metal Blade records, but had also signed a book deal. A book that Lambesis himself has alluded to which will dive into great detail of the entire ordeal. Luckily for us, you won’t have to pay Tim to hear much of what he’ll tell you in that book. He gave a very long and very detailed interview surrounding the larger points before his incarceration. He gave that interview with AltPress and you can find it here.

And I would give it a read. But, for the sake of time, I will highlight the larger points.

Upset with his marriage and adopted children, Lambesis took to working with his band more and more. He adopted the role of provider. And his wife becoming the caregiver. When he returned from the road, he found his wife unenthusiastic to spend time with him, and the two started to have friction over the children. Lambesis would try to become more engaged and she would fight. The two began to drift. And upset because his wife did not delight in his presence, he fell into a downward spiral that led him to illegal steroids, A LOT of infidelity and eventually, conspiring to have her murdered. And when you read his side of the story, it reads like an angsty teenager. He is passive aggressive and undecisive. It is no man. And while he takes responsibility for his actions, it is passive aggressively so. He gives his reasoning and his mentality to soften the blow rather than bear the full weight of any of his statements.

Consider this: “She didn’t work, and I didn’t want her to, with three kids, especially newly adopted kids who need that extra nurturing and love. Work became my thing, and parenting became her thing. So even when I tried to be involved, as a father, she was like, ‘Well this is my thing. What are you doing?’ I felt pushed out of my own family. It was difficult. It wasn’t like I was being negligent. I’m sure people have their opinions of me after the fact. I started justifying all of these weird thoughts. I started to think I’d have a better relationship with the kids if her and I weren’t together anymore. We would each have our own time with them and handle things however we wanted. Once we did separate, I realized that many of these difficult interactions still carried over from our marriage.”

So, while he does take responsibility, he offers justification and explanation. Which softens the blow for what’s to come, which is his illegal steroid usage because of his ridiculous time in the gym. Then his large infidelity to his wife. Which he blames on becoming an atheist.

Consider this: “Did I cheat on my wife because I was taking steroids? Or did I cheat on my wife and let my lustful mentality get the best of me and allowed my insecurities to drive me from there?’ They are all factors. It was a perfect storm. IN the past, those things hadn’t caused me to cheat. But they had planted a seed. Now, when it all comes down to it, I’m the one who decided to take steroids. I’m the one who didn’t address certain issues in my marriage.”

…And if that truly is the case, and you are offering genuine remorse and atonement, that should be the end of the statement. Take full responsibility, regardless your reasoning for the action. Do not offer rationale. You may not think it fair, but that’s the proper to eat crow. Take it and let the chips fall. That’s redemption. But that isn’t where the statement ends. And let’s not forget, he’s going to be explaining all this, again, in a fancy new book that he’ll charge all his fans twenty bucks a pop for. Read on.

“…I ended up touring, so I finished it up through a distance study program. I switched from philosophy to religious studies, as they wouldn’t let me do philosophy via distance learning. I’d get three pages of the traditional evangelical conservative point of view, then three paragraphs or sometimes even three sentences from the atheist perspective. But even in just a few sentences, I’d think, ‘this point of view makes more sense,’ even when it wasn’t being well represented. In the process of trying to defend my faith, I started thinking the other point of view was the stronger one. The first time I cheated on my wife, my interpretation of morality was now convenient for me. I felt less guilty if I decided, “Well, marriage isn’t a real thing, because Christianity isn’t real. God isn’t real. Therefore, marriage is just a stupid piece of paper with the government.”

Tim. You hated your marriage. What can I tell you? It happens to many of us. And you had hundreds of thousands of young tight whores screaming your name, demanding to fuck your brains out. I get it. Just divorce her. Give her half your shit and move on. Walk like a man and write songs about it like the rest of us. You grow a spine and deal with the issues in your marriage because it doesn’t hinge on religion or the state or any other ethos. It comes down to your word as a man. You’re not happy, just fucking leave.

But no. Tim has to have a thousand different reasons to lead from one unfortunate decision to another in order to protect some semblance of the squeaky clean fallen Christian image in order to sell to the same market. All of which he addresses in the following quote.

“I wasn’t the first guy in As I Lay Dying to stop being a Christian. IN fact, I think I was the third. The two who remained kind of stopped talking about it, and then I’m pretty sure they dropped it, too. We talked about whether to keep taking money from the ‘Christian market.’ We had this bizarrely noble thing, like, ‘well, we’re not passing along any bad ideas. We’re just singing about real life stuff. Those kids need to hear about real life, because they live in a bubble.’

Which now includes singing about how you ‘dug your own grave’ by attempting to murder your wife, as alluded to in their new song ‘My Own Grave.’ And all of this comes to a fever pitch in the following quote, as Lambesis recalls speaking with the fake hitman.

“…I was like, ‘Man, I just want her gone.’ I wanted to make the hurt stop. That’s what I was focused on. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s like a big bear defending its cubs. Whatever I had to do, you know what I mean? It’s not in my nature to be growly and gnashing my teeth. I’m a pretty calm guy. I’m kind of passively saying, ‘I want her gone.’ It’s just too much for me to handle. I don’t know how to handle any of it.”

So now, you notice… he’s the damsel in distress. After all these short lived and child rationales, now he sings like a victim. He’s in pain. He virtuous and righteous, after all. He’s doing it for his family. Some distant, tortured and pained desperado, he would have you believe. And for the GRAND FINALE, his contact with the rest of the band after his release…

“Jordan did return my phone call. The other guys didn’t return my calls when I first came home. I eventually did speak with Nick, really briefly. In both cases, we never got to the details. I thought they were establishing communication, as if we’d eventually be able to talk about all of these things. But then it was almost like there was some sort of group thinking going on. It was like they all decided, collectively, not to talk to me. (Fucking ‘DUH’) They cut off all communication. I sent a very long, very formal apology to all of them, trying to make amends, acknowledging how heavily my actions had impacted their lives. I got no response, so I sent another one out.”

You took their livelihood, Tim. I can understand that they’re sore. This entire debacle is what this band is always going to be known for now. He still isn’t done…

“In the second one, I was just like, ‘Look, I know I don’t deserve forgiveness. But I just want to begin this process…”

Tim. And to anyone who reads this… Choose your words carefully. Always. Because they have meaning. So, if you have wronged someone very deeply, and then you apologize, and you say ‘you know you don’t deserve forgiveness,’ you have to be ready to make good on your word. If you say you don’t deserve forgiveness, you must understand that they may never actually forgive you. They aren’t required to settle accounts or square away wrongs. And if they never forgive you, that’s their decision. And then you leave the issue. And quite honestly, by utilizing these words and sentiments to your advantage in order to gain favor with these men again is a troublingly sociopathic maneuver. Especially when there is money on the line. Tim had penned the extension with Metal Blade, and Wovenwar struggled… And Boom. You have everyone reneging on their word, As I Lay Dying is back together, and I feel more hollowed out by the entertainment crowds than ever.

And here’s where we come to the real guts of the thing. Why write about this in a time when every other metal blogger is writing the exact same article. Because I think the issue is even larger than Tim Lambesis. I think it spans a very old and very important debate. Where do we draw the line between the artist and the work they create?… And if they’re a shitty person, do you support them?

In older times, the answer to this was much clearer. But as the ages roll forward, and music becomes more intense, the glass between artist and fan becomes thinner and thinner. The glass between the artist their material as well. Another obvious artist that comes to mind is Ivan Moody. His tirades are well documented and very, very public. And when these artists write very specific lyrics addressing their personal issues in a public light and then display it for sale, I think the subject matter becomes fair to discuss and judge for merit. Danny Leal of Upon a Burning Body also had some terrible press surrounding an altercation with then vocalist for GWAR, Vulvatron. Reports state that Leal became handsy in the crowd. He was restrained by Vulvatron, who is a former professional wrestler. She choked him out. He left in a huff, came back with five of his friends. By that time, security had arrived and the issue then became a non-issue. What actually happened hotly debated by eye witnesses from both accounts. Either way, it’s not something you want your name connected to in a genre that already takes enough flack for being overly aggressive and chauvinistic. And to make matters worse, Leal has written a great number of lyrics about the incident. Inciting war cries for violence and blood. And what did he hope to accomplish by bringing back that group of five friends?… Literally beat the shit out of a woman? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU.

And when these artists are the most visible within the genre, and there are young men and women in the audiences, all of them very impressionable, they learn some very dangerous things regarding aggressive and loud music. They learn that these disgusting behaviors are to be rewarded, and that they are to be cherished and even expected. Women learning that men are aggressive and forceful brutes and men learning the opposite, but that their behavior is expected, indulged and even celebrated at times. And the worse it is, the better.

So where does that leave us?… Do you support these bands, even if you don’t support the artists as people?

Do we hate artists because of their personal lives and mistakes?

I totally respect anyone’s decision to continue enjoying the band on sound alone… But the fact is this. None of this, ANY OF THIS, becomes an issue until the artist makes it an issue. To be entirely honest, I would stay completely silent on Tim Lambesis, and any of these artists, if they weren’t talking about being savage so open and so honestly. And that’s the truth. You bite your tongue, and you bleed unsung.

But with Tim… and when I know he has a mega record deal as well as a book in the works… All things he plans to sell to you for your endorsement, I think the issue of personal life and mistakes becomes very, very relevant when weighing the artistic merit of an artist. If you’re going to sell it to me, I’m going to judge it. And if you don’t want me to judge it or comment on it, don’t fucking write songs about it.

I do believe in redemption. I do. I’ve lived it. I’ve walked it. It’s a hard road. Hard and narrow. And painful. So dreadfully painful. I do believe in those things. But let me put it plainly. It is a hell of a pill to swallow to reintegrate a member of society back into such a privileged life. And therein lies the heart of it, perhaps. When the large stars want for nothing in the wake of their very heinous actions, and matter of fact, become more relevant and even popular because of them, it’s a noxious fucking stink to swallow. Are they to be castoff and desolate their entire lives because they broke the law? No. But do they get to remain pissy and bitchy little fluffy millionaires?

As I Lay Dying’s Facebook page to which the video for their new song is pinned, there are thousands of comments. And as of eight days prior to writing this post, not one comment is concerned with Tim’s prior actions, which is what the song is about. Not one comment about his rejoining the band against the entire band’s former wishes, the wishes to which they caved upon under the stress of Tim’s impending money, or whether or not we should actually hold him publicly responsible now that his criminal responsibility has been paid.

No one is concerned. So I’m either crazy or fans are more die hard than I ever imagined.

So where does that leave all this? What’s the Facebook quote? How do I sum it all up before I leave you? Plainly.

This man ran a fake, marketed Christian image for the entirety of his career. Made a shitload of money lying to you. And when his marriage fell apart, he cheated on his wife an assload of times. Pumped himself full of illegal steroids, then tried to hire a hitman to murder his wife because he was incapable of handling the weight of adult issues. And now, infamous as a result, notorious and more popular than ever, he’s going to make more money than ever before. All that new material focusing directly on his insidious behavior.

All of it so perfectly for sale.

As a man, an artist, a husband, a father, a friend and a human being… I cannot respect myself if I support that man. I won’t begrudge those that do, of course. That’s up to everyone personally.

But, for me, personally: Fuck Tim Lambesis. And Fuck As I Lay Dying.

Peace, love and brotherhood.

Stay brutal, horns high.

PS—For added enjoyment, I’ve got one more. Tim Lambesis pumped himself so full of steroids, that when he was incarcerated, he grew man tits. Let me repeat that. He was taking steroids so heavily, that his body no longer produced enough to testosterone to make sure he remained a man. Now. Fortunately for the rich pricks of the world, there is a drug to stave off the side effects of growth hormone withdrawal, making sure you don’t turn entirely into a little woman with painful little breasts. While Tim was in jail, he did not receive this drug. So, you can see where this is going. His solution? He sued two different California Penitentiaries for various forms of Medicinal Negligence… For 35 Million Dollars.

So because Tim pumped himself so full of steroids his body didn’t know it was a man anymore… Because TIM made the decision to mess up his own biological chemistry, he is entitled to medicinal treatment during incarceration? Instead of simply shouldering the responsibility of his mistakes, which this time, came with breasts, he thought he not only deserved free drugs, but 35 million dollars to compensate him for his terrible struggling and pain and trauma of growing breasts. Which is all entirely his fault. And if you want to shoulder the burden of your actions, and prove you aren’t an entitled rockstar fuckbag, you might want to start there.

So, I’m going to type out Tim’s motion and opening statement against the penile system of California regarding that lawsuit. A quick google search will bring up his official filing with the state of California in their online department of corrections. SO, to save you the trouble, I’m going to type it out word for word and just leave it here.

“On or about June 10, 2014, my very fears evinced themselves upon my physique in the first palpable formings of, painfully sensitive, breast enlargement. Panic stricken at these initial signs of gynecomastia, I began to physically shake uncontrollably; shivering with battling anxiety and depression. Such chronic anxiety caused me to compulsively rub and scratch myself excessively and upon unusual places of my person.

On or about July 10, 2014, I noticed my breasts ceased enlargening; having attained gynecomastic maturation, that is, fully formed male mammaries, respectively. The terror I felt at this moment confirmed maturation has left me traumatized indefinitely. Without further recourse, knowing the situation hopeless, I could not help but test the painful sensitivity of my fully formed breasts with hardened hurtful nipples, I examined my body compulsively, frantically.

On July 11, 2014, I enjoyed visitation with GBDF Doctor John Serra. Serra was the professional to my patient. Serra expressly appreciated my gynecomastic constitution; noted, and treated, the rectal tag I had developed, expedited my (anastrozole) prescription, and ordered my medication be administered effective immediately.

On July 17, 2014, I finally began receiving daily dosages of anastrozole. By the time I enjoyed my right to adequate medical care, while incarcerated, the damage was done. I now suffer the adverse adornment of fully formed breasts, respectively, upon my physique—that is, a permanent gynecomastic constitution. To date, the pain and ultra-sensitivity associated with my, now, male mammaries remains. Worst of all is the anxiety and depression I experience just knowing, feeling, seeing, the protuberances that are my male breasts. As I am a stage performer by profession, much of my act is based upon the visual stimulus of audience perception—I.E., as a front man of leading rockstardom, my continued success is contingent upon my projecting a favorable physical image. Now, with the advent of these unsightly breasts, my music career shall undoubtedly suffer monetarily.

Therefore I demand compensatory relief: recompense the medical cost of the surgeries necessitated to redress my breasts to normal, masculine comforts; recompense the projected costs of psychotherapy thus in treating the mental trauma: extreme anxiety, severe depression, mental anguish, emotional distress I continue to endure proximate the respective gross negligence and deliberate indifference to my serious medical needs that VDF Nurse Mary Abiaro, GBDF Doctor Pace have afforded me. Recompense the loss of revenue concerning my career as a stage performer—I. E. The adverse effects, monetary losses, that my unsightly breasts have had upon my illustrious, tremendously marketable and exceedingly profitable image of commanding physicality.

Even my songwriting has been adversely affected as my guitar brushes against my sensitive breasts thus disrupting my very concentration ceasing valuable production.”

This is the man that wants your money after he tried to kill his wife.

My name is John Huber. I work with a collaborative team to create, release, and promote original horror art and culture. We make books, music, digital photography, illustrations and much more. Can we show you all the beautiful things? Check out our catalog. There’s something for every kind of horror fan.