Seattle, WA-based Aiden are what I like to call a band of underdogs. Underestimated in every sense of the word, they continue to push. At first, you may not want to like them or their music but with an intense and energetic show, they somehow manage to win you over. What started in 2003 as homage to bands such as The Misfits and AFI has become a perfect example of the DIY ethic started years ago.
With their new release Conviction (Victory Records), they have carefully constructed a record full of dark but danceable sing-along anthems with an assortment of driving beats full of mood and brood. While starting with a rather predictable yet beautiful piano arrangement called “The Opening Departure,” it serves only as a false route of where the record will take you. With the help of producer John Goodmanson (Death Cab for Cutie, Bikini Kill, Soundgarden), they propel right into the catchy and hook-filled gems “She Will Love You” and “Teenage Queen.”
Their first single “One Love” takes a turn toward New Order/Joy Division territory but without turning it into a horrific disparity. With lyrics like One Love/in Your Eyes Now/Look Afraid/Beyond You and Me, its almost as if singer WiL Francis wants you to laugh with him in his misery.
There are moments though where the blueprint of AFI’s catalog begins to bleed into the songs. With “Darkness,” it almost comes off sounding like a B-side of Sing the Sorrow. Now, those are just minor things. It’s nothing so bad that you can’t enjoy the album at all. I truly believe this record was done with every intention of keeping you humming to each tune. If that was the goal, it accomplishes that feat with great precision.
With the tenth track “Bliss,” guitarists Jake Wambald and Angel Ibarra really bring out their found love of Bernard Sumner’s guitarwork in Joy Division with the simplistic yet soaring riffs that with appease both old and new fans alike. In theatrical fashion, the album ends as it begins with a piano outro and slowly goes into the soaring chorus of “The Sky Is Falling.”
Bottom Line: At times, they can come off sounding like AFI’s kid brother but Conviction is solid and graceful transition from the realm of “horror rock” into the more post-hard core and beat-driven theatrics that made bands like The Cure, Joy Division and HIM so popular. This is a definite recommendation.