Stitched Up Heart – Darkness (Album Review)

You have seen them on tour with everyone from In This Moment to Pop Evil, and now Stitched Up Heart are ready to present their second full-length, Darkness, on Friday, March 13, 2020 via Another Century Records.

Stitched Up Heart have been building quite the name for themselves, touring relentlessly and sharing stages with some of the best and brightest. Formed in Los Angeles in 2010, the quartet has seen more than their fair share of line-up changes over the years, but that has hardly slowed them down. The release of three EPs led to their 2016 full-length debut, Never Alone, which charted at #4 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, #7 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart, #14 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart,and  #23 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart.

Ready to raise the middle finger to the idea of a sophomore curse, Stitched Up Heart—Alecia “Mixi” Demner, Guitarist Merritt Goodwin, Bassist Randy Mathias, and Drummer James Decker—are set to drop their second full-length, Darkness. Produced by From First To Last’s Matt Good (Asking Alexandria, Hollywood Undead), the 11-song album takes plenty of chances as it rocks hard, weaves undeniably infectious choruses, and highlights Demner’s exceptional vocal range.

Darkness opens to “Lost,” a brutal thrum that provides the anchor for Demner’s soaring vocals. The end result is a superbly catchy hard rocker that has a guest feature from Godsmack’s Sully Erna and is apt to deliver the band a bevy of new fans. Then the bass explodes on “This Skin” as the quartet takes a sultry approach to overcoming their insecurities. At this point, the collection opts to broaden the quartet’s horizons, meandering through a multitude of genres that are (almost) always anchored in their Rock-n-Roll based sound.

In fact, many of the tracks are admittedly quite radio-friendly and polished. There’s the midtempo “Dead Roses,” rocker “Straitjacket” flails its hair wildly, and they bring in some fun electronics to spice up the funky “Warrior.” While “Dirty Secrets” fits this commercial billing, it provides some surprising, experimental moments that take it to the next level. Similarly, album namesake “Darkness” plays with time signatures and atmospheric synths to craft a bold, sonic experience that works as a bridge between the two halves of Stitched Up Heart.

There are songs that blend the band’s signature, gritty hard rock style with heady synths and, at times, dip defiantly into straight EDM. Such is the case with “Crooked Halo,” which blends Pop vocals with a sultry beat. Atmospheric synths provide the backbone for “Problems,” a wall of melodic sound that seeks to defeat all that troubles us. Meanwhile, starting soft, “Bones” tip-toes across the ears like a poetic daydream, slowly building to a passionate denouement.

In the end, they choose to wrap the collection with a track that sits somewhere in between everything that came before. The maliciously infectious “My Demon” combines those EDM flourishes that we heard on earlier tracks, cranks up the band’s guitars, and crafts a wonderfully amalgamated offering that serves as an impressive grand finale. If this is what Stitched Up Heart are all about, sign us up!

Stitched Up Heart’s sound is undeniably infectious, easily digestible, and tailor-made for radio. Some listeners are apt to fault them for this fact, but Mixi and her cohorts certainly have enough grit to set them apart from the recycled, overly-processed masses. Case in point, Darkness sees the band entirely evading an easy categorization, as just when you think you have a track all figured out, they take a chance and turn the entire creation on its head. Sure, there’s an undeniable Pop sensibility to Stitched Up Heart’s sing-along choruses, but they complement this with heavy guitar riffs, explosive bass and percussion, and Demner’s phenomenal vocals.

To put it simply, Darkness is a wonderful effort from a band with a very bright future. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Stitched Up Heart’s latest 4 of 5 stars.

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