STITCHED UP HEART – TO THE WOLVES
LABEL: Another Century Records
RELEASE: September 1st, 2023
AUTHOR: Michael Estrada
01. To The Wolves
03. The Hunting
04. Possess Me
06. Taste For Blood
07. Conquer And Divide
08. Dead Inside
09. The Architect
10. Part Of Me
11. The End
Seeing STITCHED UP HEART open up for Butcher Babies and Infected Rain was the first time I was able to see the charisma and the energy of the Los Angeles band up close. Frontwoman Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner certainly has command of the stage and microphone in making her presence known, even showing off some of her own guitar skills in the process. Prior to that show, I had heard cuts from the act before, off their first two albums (“Never Alone” – 2016 and “Darkness”– 2020), that were hard to categorize. They had a more hard rock than metal approach but they utilized plenty of electronic effects that added a different sense of mood and atmosphere to their music. Their third album, “To The Wolves”, was going to be my first full foray into a release of theirs and I was curious on what I was going to find. If it was anything like their live performance, I was prepared to be impressed.
The opener, “To The Wolves”, sets a strong tone for the record. It certainly has the aforementioned electronic effect that sometimes can take away from Demner‘s voice, but it seemed to accentuate it more here. That may because this was a heavier and more aggressive sounding STITCHED UP HEART. Finding the right balance between strong riffs, catchy choruses and implementation of those electronic elements will lead to a perfect blend for them and be a recipe for further crossover appeal. The formula works to perfection again on the next track as well, “Thunder”, which is both raucous and uplifting. The electronic aspects and Demner‘s vocals provide a perfect storm, a striking melody rips through to provide a memorable refrain here too.
“The Hunting” takes a slightly different approach but James Decker’s drums and Randy Mathias’ bass stick out in the mix here. It is a slightly groovier affair, which allows guitarist Merritt Goodwin to flex his skills. The drumming is a point of emphasis again on “Possess Me”, one of the heavier tracks on the album that also manages to have space for plenty of glitchy electronics. “Immortal” may very well be the heaviest song on the album though, with a metallic riff and Mixi adding plenty of growls in. It is also a very smooth track despite how intense it gets and it is a strong highlight on the record, for sure.
“Taste For Blood” is another peak on “To The Wolves”. It is atmospheric and moody, allowing the band to play with everything else they have in their toolkit. Demner mixes cleans and growls, swapping rather easily on the palette they create instrumentally here. A striking balance of heaviness and openness makes this track stand out most. “Conquer And Divide” turns the dial up on the stuttering and glitchy electronics while “Dead Inside” is likely to be the most pulled back offering on the album. “The Architect” is a fast paced cut and keeps more in line with their earlier work but with a bit more edge added in for emphasis. “Part Of Me” and “The End”, the final two tracks on the album, close things off tightly and in more straightforward terms.
“To The Wolves” is a diverse offering from a band further cementing their identity. They are incorporating their past sound with even heavier glimpses, giving STITCHED UP HEART energy and aggression in equal measure. The electronics are incorporated even better than ever and they have not sacrificed anything in terms of mood or atmosphere in the process. This third album feels like a turn of the page for the band and I am looking forward to reading (or hearing) the next chapter.