Tim Lambesis, 32, was stopped by police while shopping in Oceanside, five days after detectives received information that the singer had solicited someone to kill his wife, who lives in the nearby beach town of Encinitas, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.
A task force from several law enforcement agencies launched an investigation that led to the arrest late Tuesday. The department would give no further details on the investigation.
A man who answered the phone at a number listed in the singer's name in the coastal city of Del Mar said the family was not commenting at this time.
Lambesis was scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday at the county courthouse in Vista.
As I Lay Dying formed in San Diego in 2000 and has released six albums, including 2007's "An Ocean Between Us," which reached No. 8 on Billboard's charts. A single from the album, "Nothing Left," was nominated for a Grammy for top metal performance. Their last album, "Awakened," came out in September on Metal Blade Records.
The band's website says the album compared to previous albums is a "far darker, more pessimistic beast."
"On this record, I wasn't purposefully trying to be negative, but I think sometimes we have to be honest with some of the darker and more difficult times of our lives to get back to that positivity," Lambesis is quoted as saying. "While the lyrics do perhaps seem like a dark window into my soul, they're written that way specifically because I want to move on and transcend those difficult moments in life."
It was not clear whether Lambesis had hired an attorney.
The band, which plays in an aggressive style that features metal guitar riffs at the furious pace of hardcore punk, was scheduled to tour the country with several other metal acts starting later this month.
Lambesis, known for his signature growling vocals, had recently raised more than $78,000 from fans to fund his side project, Austrian Death Machine, a metal band mocking the film work of Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to the Los Angeles Times. The top prize, for those who spent $5,000, was to have the winner's initials tattooed on Lambesis' buttocks, the newspaper said.
His record label, Metal Blade, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.