Diffuser - Making The Grade (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Making The Grade (2003)


Diffuser's past as Flu Thirteen was amazing.

Diffuser's debut full-length on Hollywood, Injury Loves Melody, was also amazing.

This? This isn't amazing. This isn't good; this is barely mediocre.

Here's a band that, as Flu Thirteen, recorded their dynamite In The Foul Key Of V with J. Robbins back in 1998 - an album that remains in my all-time Top 10 or so to this day. The brutal intensity of lyrics and post-hardcore music was more than a winning combo. With their signing to Hollywood, a name change was in order, but it barely affected the band, as Injury... was incredibly solid as well, with only one dud [the schlocky "Tell Her This"]. The band has developed a better sense of melody but still had the fire in their music that so few other bands possessed.

But, as the story has gone for many other bands, they were ahead of the curve by too much and completely missed their audience. It didn't help that they have been stuck touring with total shit bands like SR-71 and Dexter Freebish for the past few years. Inner turmoil caused both the bassist and drummer to leave the group, allowing frontman Tomas Constanza to more or less completely revamp the band for better commercial success.

And thus, we have this album. It pales in comparison to anything else Costanza has ever written - the urgency is gone, the dissonant guitars are forgotten, the sheer power from the rhythm section is nonexistant. This album is geared to 14 year old [if that] boys. Songs about "getting it on" with teachers, songs about how much you hate exes [including the ever-so-creative line "I wonder if you give him better blowjobs than the ones I got from you"], and songs about, well, nothing at all plague this album from start to finish. Occasionally, signs of the old Diffuser pop up, like in "Why" and "Far And In Between." Costanza has an incredibly strong voice, and it kills me that he is wasting his talents on audio excrement such as this.

As a summer throwaway pop album, it's better than most. But this disc will never sit well with me, knowing where this band came from and what they had already accomplished musically.