Christian death metal? It's actually not a new concept. One could even argue that this music is almost meditative. (I'm still waiting for Buddhist death metal. If it hasn't happened already, it will.) But a band intent on expressing its spirituality with thought that also has the guts to tour with outspoken anti-Christian acts such as Six Feet Under is, well, a godsend. San Diego's As I Lay Dying prefers to be called simply "metal," but not because the financial rewards of crossover success are plentiful. The band is just more inclusive. The lyrics contain almost no overt religious references, yet almost all of the band's songs are fodder for matters of faith: understanding it, maintaining it, using it to create mosh-pitting, head-banging anthems. Haughtiness, rigidity and dogma are refreshingly absent from the band's latest album, Frail Words Collapse, and a palpable melodic influence from traditional Euro-metal only adds to the band's left-of-center edge.