Stitched Up Heart – To the Wolves (Century Media)Friday, 18th August 2023
A band seemingly never afraid to spread their wings and incorporate new elements into their music, it’s always exciting to see where Stitched Up Heart will take their vision next. With the one constant being the emotive and heart-on-sleeves emotive lyrics of frontwoman Alecia Mixi Demner, the band went from their more straight ahead hard rock meets eerie atmosphere in their debut Never Alone to something more electronically-laced and more diverse follow-up in the appropriately titled Darkness. Knowing that they aren’t an act to simply phone in a predictable follow-up, there was still a level of surprise in the level of heaviness the band has achieved with their third effort, To the Wolves. What’s more surprising though, it how grounded and accessible they keep the album despite it’s clearly augmented ferocity quotient.
While in some ways it continues to improve upon the angles that have been successful for Stitched Up Heart in the past, the directions that the tracks swerve into are anything but predictable. The opening title cut starts with some more traditional SuH affair, leaning into the electronics, groovy riffs, and atmosphere merging with Mixi’s ethereal vocals, but the music accelerates into some growls and harsher tones as it approaches the chorus – something the band dabbled in more in their infancy but have shied away from on their full-length records. “Thunder” then eases off the heavy, instead embracing a more melodic edge – featuring one of the most addictive yet epic choruses on the album. It’s not much of a breather though, as the one-two set up of “Possess Me” and “Immortal” see the band reaching into some of the heaviest territory they’ve done to date. “Possess Me” rumbles with chunky breakdowns and jagged electronics, eventually weaving into oddly whimsical yet winding chorus that works as a dark lullaby. “Immortal” grabs for the throat immediately with intensity and galloping riffs and screamed vocals, only occasionally pausing for some groovier sections – a punchy track that completely bares its teeth. “Taste for Blood” keeps the darkness and heavy vibes, but twists it into some of the most gothic sounding material the band has done, which feels like an absolute treat. Later cut “The Architect” maintains the overall theme of heaviness but adds more playful and rock-oriented energy to it in such a way that it’s a standout towards the finish. Even the most melodic cut, “Dead Inside,” never goes too gently, offering more poignant lyrics but still keeping things groovy.
Keeping the honesty and intimacy of the band’s lyrics and message intact, yet rallying around a much heavier and more aggressive sound, Stitched Up Heart manage to exceed expectations once again. To the Wolves snarls with intensity, taking you along through a diverse line-up of tracks that expand the Stitched Up Heart palette and should easily satisfy any fans of modern metal or rock. Their commitment to one-upping themselves is in and of itself admirable, and given the more predictable nature of the scene around them, that sort of effort shouldn’t go unnoticed – an act like theirs should be leading the pack, and hopefully the third time’s the charm for Stitched Up Heart to finally attain that larger, world-class presence that their music continues to exude.