WASHINGTON – Attend an As I Lay Dying concert and one will likely find two things: heavy metal and prayer.
It's a combination most metalheads or Christians wouldn't count on, but it's easy invoking divine intervention when confronted with the "Wall of Death." Hundreds of participants line up on opposing sides of a mosh pit as the band plays, the tension mounts until it snaps and both sides charge at each other in a deluge of whirling bodies. As concert-goers slam in violent communion, it's easy to see why As I Lay Dying defies categorization; it has taken them ten years, but they've conquered the secular heavy metal world while remaining openly Christian.
The group is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary with its "Decade of Destruction" tour crisscrossing America. Josh Gilbert, the band's bassist, said the trek's goal is to thank As I Lay Dying's fans for years of devotion. Such support has gained the San Diego metal act Grammy award nominations and a Billboard Top 10 placement for their last album, 2010's The Powerless Rise.
"Our fans are really important to all that we do," Gilbert said. "Especially with the music industry in the dumps, it's important to cherish them. It's great being able to still tour comfortably and stay relevant in the metal scene after all these years."
The musician said during a pre-concert chat at D.C.'s 930 Club last night that As I Lay Dying's success stems from mixing powerful music with positivity. Though the group primarily writes heavy metal for heavy metal's sake, Gilbert said its members' Christian background gives them a rare perspective for reaching people.
"I definitely think the metal scene at times lacks positivity," Gilbert said. "We don't always write positive songs, but we offer a positive alternative."