Staff Wars: Nocte

Published: January 20, 2022

Hello and welcome back to our ongoing sexification of Staff past and present and hopefully present-and-future by way of deep-diving casual-reading power-lifting interview posi-sharking antics: Sputnik’s very own Meet the Spartans. Steel yourself as impossible questions are posed and the Staffers you wish you’d had the courage or attention span to acknowledge surpass your wildest expectations.

Today we speak with the man with the pan: a gnarled veteran of the features tab and a primary culprit behind the Staff tab’s oversaturation of metal reviews. Is his bite as big as his boil? Please bow your heads and clean your kitchens for: Gnocchi/Nocte! 

What is Gnocchi Night? | Gnocchi Night


Hi there Mr. _Well

What’s the time?

Ah, 4.44pm. I am sunburnt. The Ashes are on and I’m drinking sparkling shiraz.

Who are you?

It’s hard to pin down exactly. Mostly I just feel like an everyday Aussie who’s life rotates in three’s: work, family and food. “Who I am” seems like a deep dive especially when I’m really no one special, really.

Who are your people?

I have a family, so I guess they have to put up with my shit right? That would make them my people – but mostly I’ve forgotten how to make conversation with people face to face. Sure, I can have a professional conversation, getting things done that pertain to things that need to be done but when it comes down to it, dialogue between people I would make “my people”…awkward silences come easier than most lines.

What I’m trying to say is that online, specifically the few that read on this website have become my people – even those that think I’m batshit crazy and my review scoring is downright retarted. Spending (read; wasting) countless hours arguing over decibels and which old-school death metal band has the best music [this year] gives me a greater sense of “people” than what I find in a physical sense.


Okay, let’s delve. You write near-exclusively on metal on an apparently tireless basis. How much time and interest does this leave you for the rest of the pantheon, how do you keep your niche from feeling like a crevasse, and who is a more probable harbinger for the future of metal between Ad Nauseam and Fire-Toolz?

When you say ‘pantheon’, do you refer to the rest of music ever made OR the pantheon of metal music that I can’t help but leave due to time restraints?

The former, including everything presently being made and everything to come.

Mostly I stick to my strengths and the other genres either fall under curiosity listens or nostalgic call backs. I’ll throw on a pop record of the times (usually because sputnikmusic[dot]com has it on its radar/front page), but my score (if given at all) is essentially a “how much do I like this vs. will I replay this album in the future?” I’m clearly not a flamenco savant, but having learnt guitar back in the day I can really appreciate the style, technique and soul that goes into a composition like that.

More specifically in regards to metal, it’s hard to keep up (yes, this is a cop-out). But imagine keeping tabs on all the major release labels, the minor ones, the up and coming ones and resources like Bandcamp all at once. I’m not going to pretend I’m at all close.

an endless abyss of dying ideas and recycled riffs

Do I have a niche? I’ve tried streamlining which acts and genres I’d give preference to while reviewing but if we were to use [last] year as an example I had intentions to exclusively review black metal; honing in on craft while allowing myself more time in the real world to balance those important things. Did it work? Fuck no. Almost 60 reviews, most of which are death metal. My niche as it is occasionally does feel like mud sometimes. There are weeks that I can’t help but feel like I’m churning out the same descriptors for similar music. What’s worse it’s not the music’s fault. Or an endless abyss of dying ideas and recycled riffsis it? I should be the reviewer to distinguish which is what, but I digress. If I like the music and lump a whole bunch of similar adjectives on it, then I guess that’s the niche of music I like. Even if it’s an endless abyss of dying ideas and recycled riffs.

What is your favourite metal music trope? Why?

That metal isn’t for everyone. But of course it is. We’re supposed to be outcasts, simps for murderers and blasphemers but that disclaimer could belong to any genre really. We’re the punk heads that got lost in the woods that somehow resurfaced cover in leather, spikes and horrible corpse paint. It might sound at odds but from what I’ve seen of the metal community, both online and live, is that we are an inclusive bunch. You’re gay? Cool, here are some riffs. You’re straight? Here are the same fucking riffs. You want to fuck a camel? …okay, that one is not so much. I think most people reading this would get my point. There’s phobia and racism in this world and yeah, metal has had its share (and probably more), but these days we’re awake to the hypocrites, the community at large is calling out those who’d isolate and discriminate based on the factors outlined above (and rightfully so).

What is your favourite metal review trope? Why?

BLACK SABBATH / Sabbath Bloody Sabbath(LP) - レコード買取&販売のだるまやThis one is less of a review trope and focused on press releases that hit my inbox – although there’s reviewers out there that are guilty just the same. I’m also using the term ‘favourite’ extra loosely but anytime I see something described as “Black Sabbath”. Whether it’s modern rock, funeral doom or stoner rock – for whatever reason it’s sold as “Sabbath worship”, “Sabbath re-imagined” etc. I can’t not chuckle anytime I see this. I’ve read a lot of press emails, knowing [without listening] just how little Sabbath I’ll hear within. They were a million years ago guys. Let’s try something a little more recent like, I don’t know…Bach?

Listening to metal is supposedly a peak visceral experience, full of adrenaline and/or weight and/or sensory maximalism. Music criticism is typically none of these things; how do you turn the former into the latter? What’s the most appropriate way to preserve that kind of appeal within the English language, or otherwise?

My use of the English language kind of pales when compared to my colleagues. Without speaking for the rest of the guys and gals that review these more extreme genres I just tell it how I see it – which is boring I guess. Maybe it helps that I’m less “critical” of the music I like and they’re the ones most likely to get a review – which could also be considered boring or not as exciting. Either way I’m guilty of this. At least I’m not just dropping “buy this/it riffs ahrd” everywhere as if my I.Q. points were counted in the 20’s…

You were ghost promoted to Staff last year, which I guess makes you the youngest member. Why do you think this was?

I have conversations with some of the site’s upper echelons, but I don’t think you make it to staff without doing at least ‘something’ right. Right? Honestly, I’d like to think the stars aligned and my decade anniversary on the site married into a ghost promotion and here we are. That’s not to say if you spend ten years doing Sput things you’re suddenly staff – I worked for this, but I haven’t changed too much since the upgrade. Or at least that’s what I think.

Fuckin’ righteous! Now, imagine I’m an obtuse user with a mouthful of yesterday’s hot takes and a limited reserve of patience, the kind that pops up like clockwork in Tool or Periphery threads. If I told you I wanted to start writing earnest reviews, what would your advice be?

mmmGrow a thick skin and keep the frame of mind that ‘earnest reviews’ belong to. The internet can be a rough place and this site isn’t especially known for growing budding reviewers. There are outliers of course, but if the site’s more veteran users, staff and contributors could combine and nurture these users we could probably corner the market on the relevant reviewing of new music. We could also own a few racehorses and earn a few michelin stars while we’re at it.

If your opinions are ‘obtuse’…well, that’s fine too – but really get to the core of what you’re trying to say. I don’t care that you think [album] is cancer. Tell me why; really lay it out – gloves off. And the same goes for those gushing 5/5 scores too. You want to take that album home and be its housewife? Why does it deserve that sort of attention and dedication? Make the reader want to put a ring on it too. It’s not a crime to unapologetically love an album (and the same goes for those that deserve the lowest score), but if you’re going to say so you need to accept that you might be the only one to see it like that. More importantly if that’s the case: don’t half ass it.

Tl;dr: I welcome anyone to try their hand at reviewing and will offer help to anyone sincere enough to try writing “earnestly”.

You’ve written unapologetically negative reviews for, primarily, core records. This sparks a lot of joy for me personally, but I’ve seen some raised eyebrows over the contrast between these and the more liberal praise you’ve dispensed on bands commonly imputed within similar spheres of quality (which, I guess, means stuff like Polaris and Trivium).

Now, I’m insufficiently full of shit to pretend to care about holding you to account for this, so instead please tell us a little about your relationship with core, from which people can draw their own conclusions.

This [sort of] goes to what I’ve said above. Yeah I’ve laid out some records and if you’re going to do so it’s best you rip that bandaid off, bare knuckle it and just get to it. People/readers seem to forget that reviews are based on specific personal opinion. I don’t go into a review thinking “yeah, this is an easy 3.5/5”. I take it on a face value; summing up personal opinions on what’s in front of me. If I think it’s the audible equivalent of an overgrown prostate – you’re probably going to read exactly that. On the other hand if it’s solid, surprising and worthy of praise it’s going to get that too.

My relationship with the core genre mostly comes from my secondary school experiences. Back then I listened to a lot of nu-metal and became a sucker for the clean/harsh dichotomy of acts like Killswitch Engage, Trivium and local exports Parkway Drive to name a few. I’ve even reviewed all of these over the years. Not all of these have achieved glowing scores. My opinions on their music, whether it’s good or bad, will remain unapologetic.

You recently rebranded from Nocte to Gnocchi; what was the impetus for this, and is Gnocchi the indefinite future?

Am I allowed to blame fellow staffer Milo? I’ve had a couple of name changes now, each more reflective of the current “me”. It’s becoming increasingly common knowledge that I’m a chef, that I like my wine and if given the choice have been perfecting my gnocchi recipe over the course of the last few years. If I was a deep, Confucius type I’d say my recipe for the potato pasta is a lot like my growth as a reviewer; there’s always room for improvement, or betterment – things to explore, trial and try again. Is “Gnocchi” here to stay? I’d say so, unless I piss Jom off and he reduces me to a plate of potato moosh. Maybe one day I’ll simply don a “Chef” moniker (if it’s not already taken) but I’m very comfortable with the handle I have now.

When are food metaphors appropriate? When are they not?

They are always. Sex, music or describing the weather. Try it, you might like it – just brace yourself if you tell the missus to “open her mouth or it’s going in an eye”. I’m not responsible for poor judgement choices. Can a riff be tasty? Of course it can. Some guitar solos might get a few chaps moister than an oyster – – and that’s okay too.

Cross -domain mappings of SEX IS FOOD conceptual metaphor Source domain... | Download Scientific Diagram

You’ve spent a potentially unmatched length of time as a senior figure within the Contributor pool. Do you miss that role? Are there any relative downsides to being Staff? What are the most important things to bear in mind as a Contrib, and what standards would you hold the role to?

Yes and no. I would be kidding myself if I was disappointed at eventually being promoted. After all, why apply if you don’t want that? I don’t see many (read: none) downsides to writing at the staff level and the blog access is better than what you’d expect. I’ve already taken advantage of a few band interviews and have another in the works. At times I found the senior contrib role rewarding; In my opinion I was a combination of Gandalf and Louis Litt (Suits, in case you’ve been in a hole this last decade) and taking the training wheels off new initiates was its own reward. (Baby birds leaving the nest and all that). As for the current contributing reviewers of 2021 I hope they’ve kept up their own mantle and that someone has tried stepping into some senior role. The advice is the same as it has been for years; hit the minimum (or close) review quotas, have a decent to positive site profile (i.e. if you’re on the ban radar it’s time to re-evaluate) and make sure you’re ready to go for the end of year ‘best of’ features – this is where you really shine and the user base is depending on you [no pressure].

Penne - WikipediaAs for “standards” they are very much the same as the staff level, but without the possibility of an embarrassing metacritic inclusion or seeing that one line quote being misused in an album presser. Basically enjoy the acknowledgement that you’re on the cusp of achieving that next level on the site, some of us didn’t achieve it in less than two years and really harness your writing “style”. If you do it won’t take you long before you’ll be leapfrogging this pasta man.

Who do you most miss on Sputnik?

This might be left of field but DaveyBoy. The guy was always perplexed that I’d ask him to help proof my early day reviews (I don’t think metal was much his thing lol), but his takes were always polite, honest and carried a lot of the attributes that should be encouraged both online and offline.

I’d also provide a shout out to Irving. I’m not sure the guy even pops in any more, but who doesn’t like a perfect analysis of a Disney soundtrack…and yet I know the guy is more than that – but I’m not going to pretend that this doesn’t exist:

Did you have any New Year’s resolutions?

I don’t yet, but it’s probably more of the same as last year with hopefully a few less covid interruptions. Family, fitness and maybe a blue belt in jiu jitsu before April? Basically I just want to build on what I have – keeping the important things on my mind. As for Sputnikmusic, I really want to hammer down on a niche while finding a few less ‘safe’ albums to review. These are generally the albums I might not think are the best. Token thoughts on 4 out of 5 scored reviews seem to come easily and I struggle articulating thoughts when the album in question is in the 2.5ish range.

What’s your failsafe way to unwind, and how often is this necessary?

I don’t have a lot of unwinding mechanisms, but I can credit jiu jitsu with some stress release. I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way but choking people and snapping arms = calming feels? It’s also one of those environments where if you’re not switched on to what’s in front of you, you’ll most likely be on the receiving end of an arm-bar or collar choke. Music itself has been my biggest equaliser this last decade or so. It doesn’t have to be good (although it helps) or bad – it existing is generally enough.

Spit some pith on the following, please:

Jason Statham

I probably wouldn’t fuck a bald dude

Liz Fraser

The sex symbol born before our times or the Cocteau Twins? You decide

People who mix teriyaki with butter

Dispose without burning your house down hippie. Shower. Start over.


You should already be on the night shift.

Get Low

Happy Tree Friends

I have never.

Twin Peaks

Hooters, but not.


I love Tuscan styled food and holy fuck is this a versatile pairing with basically anything pasta or meat based.

Any final comments?

It is no longer 4.44pm, but the cricket being the cricket…the Ashes are still on. That said, I am grateful I have the opportunity and space to write my thoughts in whatever manner this site allows (god bless bugs). As much as this site stems from being a hobby it’s become cemented in my very being. This might sound like an addiction. Wait, who the fuck am I kidding? I am addicted to Sputnikmusic and to all of you.

Thank you for your time!

Do I write words here?




Thank you for your readership; please stay tuned for our next instalment! 

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