By Greg Maki
After expanding its sound in all directions—and including a fair amount of pop sensibilities—on its 2020 album, “Darkness,” Stitched Up Heart has gone darker and a whole lot heavier on album number three, “To the Wolves.” Incorporating electronics to add an industrial-strength edge to much of the recording and with frontwoman Alecia “Mixi” Demner adding a ferocious scream to her repertoire, the album fits nicely among recent releases from bands like Motionless in White, Ice Nine Kills and Dark Divine. (It’s a shame the timing didn’t match up with last year’s Trinity of Terror Tour, because Stitched Up Heart would have been a perfect opener for that package, which featured Motionless in White, Ice Nine Kills and Black Veil Brides.)
While it may take some by surprise, the turn in the band’s sound feels natural. The darker side that’s always been there simply has come to the fore, and even so, many of the songs retain the anthemic tone of empowerment that characterized earlier releases—look no further than the title track that opens the album (featuring an assist from Escape the Fate vocalist Craig Mabbitt). In fact, the heaviest moments work best: With an up-tempo rhythm and Demner’s screams dominating, “Immortal” pulses with a punk rock spirit, while “The Architect” pulls in the best of nü metal with its heavy, syncopated riff. And even though on the whole, they may not be quite as singalong worthy as much of what was on the previous album, Demner delivers plenty of hooks in the explosive choruses.
The balance that Stitched Up Heart has struck between aggression and melody, darkness and hope is not easy to achieve. Though only three full-lengths in, history tells us that the band will veer off in another direction on its next release. Based on the seamless shift of “To the Wolves,” I’m eager to see where it goes.
Century Media Records – September 1, 2023
Buy/stream “To the Wolves”