It's been 10 years since San Diego's As I Lay Dying began its aural assault on metalcore fans. And to commemorate the band's first decade and five albums, Decas presents a collection of remixes, cover songs and three new tracks—including "Paralyzed."
This first single off the disc is vintage As I Lay Dying. Which is to say, it's a ferocious fusillade of thrash guitar and guttural growling … all in the (some would say unlikely) service of Jesus' teaching that real life only begins when we're willing to lay our lives down.
In the first verse, frontman Tim Lambesis explores the nature of self-sabotaging choices that leave us paralyzed and passive. "I have spent most of my life trying to complicate everything that I believe," he confesses. "So that while paralyzed in thought I will always have an alibi." The result: "Delaying true progress with passivity."
That's a blunt and bleak assessment of this metal pilgrim's progress. But he quickly adds, "What I know is simple/If I am honest with myself/My soul is broken yet easily fixed/And what I know is simple/I must die if I truly want to live."
He's echoing Jesus' teaching in John 12:24-26: "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." And as the song winds down toward its cacophonous close, Lambesis paraphrases Jesus yet again, reminding listeners that the path to greatness and eternal life travels down, not up: "The greatness of us have become the least/I must be reborn to revive a heart that hardly beats/Keeping alive this hollow frame/I must be reborn."
True greatness, Jesus taught, only comes when we relinquish our lives and ambitions for the sake of serving others. "Whoever wants to become great among you," Jesus told his disciples in Mark 10:43-44, "must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." Then He added (in verse 45), "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
That's a countercultural truth that's still resonating 21 centuries later—in this case courtesy of pounding amplifiers, blast beat drums and the roaring prophetic message of As I Lay Dying.