Wednesday, 23 September 2009


It's always nice to come back from holiday in a hot, sunny, dry location, and descend into the dreary, wet, dull countryside of the UK! I am glad to be home though, I've only been away for a week and a few days but it feels like ages.

After finishing my work experience on Friday, Lauren and I travelled to France and stayed in Paris for a few days. I was a fantastic break and will be really useful for the travel writing unit I'm taking next semester. I'll post a full account of my trip and some pics as soon as possible.

This morning has been one of phone calls. I had some loose ends to tie up, and with the help of Mr. Telephone, they are all tied neatly in little bows. Firstly, I needed to change the delivery address for my tickets to see Enter Shikari in Southampton. Done. Then check with my uni to see what I need to do about my late loan application (due to the inadequencies of Wiltshire County Council). Turns out the uni are well prepared for the onslaught of students with no proof of their loans, so I have no issue there. Lastly, I rang for the second time to find out what has happened to some DVDs I ordered two months ago, and decided to get a refund. Sorted.

Now I've gotta pack up my stuff one last time for my final year (he says, a tear trickling down his cheek). I got my timetable for the next semester today, and it's pretty good. I get Fridays off and only have seven hours contact time a week! But I guess that means I'll have to whip my time management skills into shape.

I've started writing a sci-fi short story, which I will post soon. It will probably be a two-part thing. It's an uber-geeky space battle sequence, a little homage to Star Wars and stuff like that.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Beauty Sleep: I need it.

Hello readers. It's the second week of my second work experience placement and to be honest, I'm looking forward to the end of the week.

Not that it's been bad, I'm just looking forward to not having to get up so early! I know I'm gonna have to live in the real world very soon (next year most likely) but until then, I wanna get up when I want to. It's not that I'm bad at getting up early, I usually get up at 8ish of my own accord. But the difference is that I chose to get up at that time. It's the autonomy that counts. I think having to get up for a 9-5 job will probably be the catalyst that will push me to become a published author, because if I'm successful I can be my own boss, and get up whenever I want!

The weather's been nasty in London today, I got soaked whenever I had to venture outdoors. First time was to get some euros for when I go to Paris with Lauren on Saturday (another reason for my desire to get to the weekend) and the second was the five minute journey between the bus and my aunt and uncle's house.

Mister Duffield of Duffy's Deliberations introduced me to DJ Bento the other day, who is a dubstep dj friend of his from school (not to be confused with DJ Bento, some guy that's big in Japan). Have a look at his blog where you can download some mixes by him for free. It's grimy stuff!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Divine Heresy - Bringer of Plagues - Review

Music by Dino Cazares, Tim Yeung and Joe Payne, lyrics by Travis Neal (except lyrics to “The Battle of J. Casey” written by Jason Casey), produced by Logan Mader and Lucas Banker for Dirty Icon Productions and published by Sangreal Music, Inc.

If you’re looking for juggernaut heavy riffs, pugilistic industrial rhythms and howling apocalypse-declaring vocals, then you’ve come to the right place, as Divine Heresy, the brainchild of veteran axe-wielder Dino Cazares, continue to pound out their sonic destruction with solidarity and technical prowess.

Divine Heresy were formed officially in 2006, but the origins of the band began in 2002 when former Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares and former Vital Remains drummer Tim Yeung decided search for a vocalist to work with them on a new musical project. Tommy Cummings was chosen, as was former Nile bassist Joe Payne. And thus Divine Heresy was born, their first album Bleed the Fifth released in 2007, receiving positive reviews and generating an instant following. After an onstage altercation in August 2008, Tommy Cummings was sacked from the band and replaced by Travis Neal, vocalist of The Bereaved. A year later and the melodic death metal group release their second and latest album, Bringer of Plagues.

One might expect a fairly different vocal sound and approach with the change in Divine Heresy’s line-up, but Neal ticks all the same boxes as Cummings did, switching fluidly from aggressive screams to melodic sections and back again. As far as lyrics go Bringer of Plagues follows the apocalyptic religious themes set up in Bleed the Fifth, and aren’t that much to get excited about. However, they fit the dark and desolate tone of the other musical elements of Divine Heresy, and work well with the overall rhythmic feel of the band. The gutturally chanted chorus of “Monolithic Doomsday Devices” (has there ever been a better song title?!) is particularly worthy of mention, working perfectly with the brutality generated by the other instruments.

The riffs of Dino Cazares have always been a straight-forward rhythmic onslaught right from the days of Fear Factory, sprinkled sparingly with melodic sections. While this was never a bad thing at all, it is great to see him embracing more technical ideas in regards to his guitar playing in Divine Heresy. Bringer of Plagues contains some extremely demanding riffs and licks, and not just in regards to their epic speed. The album’s opening track “Facebreaker” in particular contains some fantastic sweep picking in its main riff.

The drumming of Tim Yeung conforms to the same pattern, with sections of pure machine-gun double kick contrasted with more technical ideas and skills. I do find myself slightly cynical when regarding metal drummers nowadays however, as the proliferation of aids such as kick drum triggers allow a moderately competent drummer to sound perfect without good technique. But I will leave this scepticism aside, as I wouldn’t want to accuse Mister Yeung of being anything other than a talented musician.

Joe Payne's bass lines generally follow the guitar riffs, and don’t do much other than that, which isn’t really a bad thing considering the style of music. The overall result is songs that contain drilling riffs at the speed of light, with melodic tones thrown in for good measure. The only break from this rule is the slower ballad-like “Darkness Embedded”, which is as light as Divine Heresy will allow themselves to be; in short, still very heavy!

One could be forgiven for finding that the songs of Bringer of Plagues do have a tendency to blend into one and all feel fairly similar. This would probably only be an issue for music fans not interested in or accustomed to the styles and sounds of industrial death metal. Divine Heresy clearly do not have general commercial appeal in mind with their music, and hence are happy with the specific fanbase they have generated amongst the metal community. It could also be said that Bringer of Plagues does not strike out much further than the band’s first album, sticking to already covered ground. However, when you hit that precise sound you want from your band, you would be foolish to stray away from it unless you were really certain of wanting to take new direction.

While it may not be ground-breakingly different from Bleed the Fifth, Bringer of Plagues by Divine Heresy is a solid second album from a hard-working and passionate band. With their brutal aggression and thundering momentum, this metal-machine has a lot of mileage left in it.

If you like this, then try: All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, The Bereaved, The Black Dahlia Murder, Chimaira, Fear Factory, Gojira, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Machinehead, Nile, Pantera, Slayer, Trivium and Vital Remains.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Finally, Sam Richards has come back, to Blogger!

It's the same story as it always is; I've been incredibly busy. Hence, no posts for a while. It's been my last week at work for the summer this week, which took up a fair bit of time. Also been doing some stuff at church, chairing the evening meeting and doing the talk at the youth club, both of which required some more time. All the other small details of life filled in the rest of the gaps.

Had a wonderful kick in the teeth on Friday. Rang the Student Loans Company cos I thought I'd lost my registration letter and needed another one; turns out I have no loan for next year! My local education authority used all the info I sent them to finalise my loan for last year. Why? I have no idea! But the fact of the matter is I have to reapply with all the slackers who've left it to the last minute. Should get my loan in time though, so no real harm done.

Went to Hillsong London today, which is a big church in the nation's capital that meets in The Dominion Theatre. It was my friend James' idea to go, as I happened to going down to London today for another work experience placement. Have a look at his blog, Duffy's Deliberations. We (James, my fiance Lauren, and myself) thought it would be cool to see what a big church is like, as we're all used to fairly small services.

There were quite a few subjects that my trip to Hillsong London caused me to ponder. I was kind of skeptical about how 'showy' the service would be. Sitting in the theatre before the start I could see all the lights, smoke and multimedia that was to be employed, and wasn't sure it was appropriate or if it would distract from focusing on God. However, I came to the decision that it would be ungrateful to God to have the blessing of a building like The Dominion, and not use its full capabilities. Also, it's all about your own heart. You can be distracted from focusing on God in the plainest and most mundane surroundings. I know personally that my imagination can be the biggest distraction for me, and it's for each individual to channel their attention, regardless of the surroundings.

The preacher at the service, Stovall Weems, the senior pastor at Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, brought up some interesting thoughts in his sermon on Mary the sister of Martha. His main point was how she sought happiness at the feet of Jesus, encouraging us to follow this example and be happy in God. Placing our happiness in our relationship with Christ is the best way to bring people to God, because happiness will overflow onto those we interact with, leading them to question how they can obtain that kind of joy. There were a lot of other things he said, and I haven't explained this as well as others could, but it stuck with me as something I should put into practice in my life.

Phew! That's a lot of writing for one night. Got a few reviews to come, as I saw Inglorious Basterds last week, and recently purchased Imogen Heap's new album, Ellipse. Will have them up shortly. Should do some fiction as well really, so I don't get rusty. That would be unforgivable!