Nightmare Anatomy

Horror-themed music ain't what it used to be. The Misfits sang about zombies with such ghoulish conviction that even their "whoa-oh" harmonies sounded like the eerie moans of the undead. Now there are the goth-punk goofs of Aiden, whose Nightmare Anatomy generates less terror than you'd find in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

The band's songs, which feature shrieked verses alternating with fey upbeat choruses, seem to follow a pathetic plotline: Its members scream about blood, hell, and death in an attempt to frighten their girlfriends, all so they can cuddle and comfort them afterward. "The nightmare won't last long," singer wiL croons. "Are you scared? I'm right there by your side." Every song on the album features the word "nightmare," which is less a thematic thread than a single idea grotesquely stretched, as if by a medieval torture rack.

On the plus side, Aiden's drummer shocks life into slow, sappy material, and its guitarists lay down some intriguing choppy riffs and an effective acoustic coda. Ending songs is one of Aiden's strengths, with its dramatic final phrases ranking among the album's most effective moments. But the band's tunes are like annoying slasher-flick characters: Their cathartic deaths don't arrive quickly enough.