Cincinnati, Ohio's Make the Difference is two guys, named Justin and Josh, and a rotating cast of friends according to the liner notes. It doesn't tell me what Justin or Josh happen to do in Make the Difference. The liner notes don't even bother to tell me which two of the four gentlemen in the band photo are Justin and Josh. It's annoying. Maybe everyone in WKRP-land know Josh and Justin but I can't tell who's who. Is Justin the guy in the BA|NE hoodie or is he the neck beard guy in the Verse shirt? Maybe Josh is the guy in The Starting Point shirt or the guy next to him in the Sinking Ships one. I'm practically losing sleep over this every time I bother to listen to I Still Believe. Yeah, I have issues with poorly thought out layouts. Sadly, unlike Restless Leg Syndrome, there isn't a cure all pill to fix this.
Speaking of Sinking Ships, Verse, Bane, and The Starting Point, Make the Difference sounds like if all those bands got together on one sultry summer night and made babies. However, the offspring only decided to use the most generic and overused parts of their parents and then add some cliché lyrics are about positivity and being straightedge. Now, before everyone gets their underoos in a bundle, this isn't going to be a bad review. I actually like I Still Believe because I happen to like fast melodic hardcore with positive lyrics about being edge and the scene. I like the crew sing-alongs and the mid-paced "two steps" parts so kids in dunks can do that crazy skip they do so well. I'd probably like Make the Difference a whole lot more if there wasn't one note that didn't come from Sinking Ship's Disconnecting or Verse's first album. However, it's not like Sinking Ships and Verse drink from the well of originality themselves so I can't blame Make the Difference for not adding anything new to an older rehashed sound. However, both Verse and Sinking Ships have a sound that makes them stick out from the crowd. When you hear them you know it’s them. If I heard Make the Difference on some compilation I'd probably mistake them Champion or even Comeback Kid if I really didn't care to find out the truth.
Oh yeah Comeback Kid, Make the Difference sounds a lot like them too, especially in the vocal delivery of somewhat shouted yelps and grunts. Make the Difference really sound like Winnipeg's finest when they go all out and add in some very serious floor clearing mosh parts. And they aren't the floorpunching variety either. Think of kids spinkicking and being a general nuisance and here's your soundtrack. Fast melodic hardcore doesn't need some jud-jud mosh to make it stand out from the crowd. Screw Comeback Kid for adding this element in and shame on Make the Difference for feeling like they needed to add it in.
Almost every song on I Still Believe is about being drug-free and loving it. There are references to drugs being thrown away and how you don't need them. Yeah it's all done in a very special episode of Growing Pains type way. It's all heart-warming and cheesy, however, it's still good to see lyrics about straightedge in a positive light rather than militant kill your local drug dealer type insanity plaguing suburbs across America. If the song isn't about being edge, it's about being positive in the scene or for the scene. It isn't that it's about missing someone. The lyrics are still all cheddar and Hallmark Cards but it's still better than singing about razorblades and bloody angel wings.
I Still Believe is a fine album. There's really nothing bad to say about it, however there's nothing really good to say about it either. I've heard this band a million times before and even though I like the sound there's nothing making the difference here for me. Har. Har. Har. Sorry. Josh and Justin have a decent straightedge hardcore band that probably rocks the hell out the local VFW. Nevertheless for me, it's another case of been there and done that and quite frankly I've had better.
4.5 / 10
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