Thursday 9 May 2024


Today, I'm interviewing one of the brightest new voices I've heard within the Doom/Stoner Metal blogging scene in quite some time. A new blog called Screaming From The Heavy Underground has just emerged with expertly written and brilliantly observed reviews that are quite in-depth. The person who runs this fantastic blog is Doomcakes aka Stephanie Zalta.

Stephanie first came to my attention writing for Scott Spiers great blog Clean, Sober and Stoner before branching out with Screaming From The Heavy Underground. Stephanie quickly became a well respected member of the infamous Doom Charts page which Scott and myself are also members of.

I wanted to find out more about Stephanie's work and how the blog came into being. Plus I wanted to know where "Doomcakes" originated from which Stephanie kindly answers with this fantastic in-depth interview.

Hi Stephanie. How’s it going. Thanks for doing the interview..

Hi, I’m great! Thank you so much for the opportunity!

We’re here to discuss your fantastic work that you carry out within the Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal community and mostly your great blog Screaming From The Heavy Underground. How did that page start and where did you get the idea from.

I started out in the heavy underground community on Instagram, and I noticed that, as time went by, my descriptions about the albums I was posting there were getting longer and longer. Not only that, but I found myself wanting to write more in general, not just about underground music but about broader topics in music and some mainstream albums that have meant a lot to me throughout my lifetime.

At that point, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and start a blog page. To be honest, I hated the idea at first because everyone has a blog and bloggers have kind of a bad reputation for being annoying…but I decided I could try my best to be different. Of course, the primary purpose of the blog is the same as my Doomcakes pages: to shine a much-deserved and much-needed spotlight on the unparalleled and underrepresented talent in heavy underground music. Hence, I’m “screaming” from the heavy underground.

Was it a spur of the moment decision to start your own blog. As you did some cool work for Scott over at the great site Clean And Sober Stoner..

Actually, it was kind of spur of the moment. It was essentially time for the baby bird to leave the nest, so to speak. I have Scott to thank for so much; he really took me under his wing and was a great mentor. Without him, I wouldn’t be contributing to the Doom Charts! But, one day came when I decided it was time to go out on my own. Plus, I didn’t want to cramp Scott’s style with some of my less doomy fascinations, like jazz fusion, alternative, indie, and grunge.

Are you still contributing to Scott's site or you focusing solely on your own blog.

I’m just doing my own thing, but Scott and I still totally support each other!

What's the overall aim for Screaming From The Heavy Underground. Are you focusing mostly on unknown bands or more well known bands as well.

The overall aim is to increase my reach and make connections within the underground community in hopes that some of these amazing underground bands can get the attention they deserve. That could mean record deals, gigs, or just someone to help get the word out. I focus on both unknown and well known bands and everything in between. Of course, the more well known bands don’t need my help, but when I write about them, it’s just me pouring my heart out about how much I love them. That’s another great thing about the blog; it gives me an opportunity to write longer-form content about music that I love and explain how it’s touched me. That’s a great way to connect with other fans and I’ve had a lot of awesome online conversations with people that way.

I read your excellent bio and description for the blog and you stated you would like to do interviews sometime in the future. Are you going to start doing interviews in the near future.

I would love to! I just need to get a better audio setup, and that’s tough for me because I’m clueless when it comes to technology (and I’m very frugal!), but all in good time! I’m not really sure if I’ll start interviewing in the near or distant future yet, but if a good opportunity to get started presents itself, I’m there!

Did you ever consider doing other things with blogs such as news items and maybe even premieres if given the chance in the future.

Absolutely! I’d love to do all of those things.

The reviews that you've published are brilliantly written and quite in-depth at times. Do you prefer writing in-depth reviews compared to shorter reviews.

Thank you! Yes, I love doing in-depth reviews; the bands really deserve it. Nothing makes me happier than when an album really clicks with me and I’m able to write a longer, more heartfelt review. Then, when the band reads the review and they let me know that I really “get it”, there’s this amazing connection there that I find to be incredibly beautiful. We’ve all created something in our lifetime, and it can be tough to send that out into the world (especially the online world), opening it up to judgment. So, when someone else really understands what you were going for, it’s the coolest thing in the world.

Do you have a set of your own personal rules when it comes to reviewing a band on your site.

Simply that I have to like the band. If it’s not for me, I don’t feel comfortable reviewing it. That’s just not fair to the band. If I don’t like it, there’s someone out there that will absolutely love it and will give the band the review they deserve.

Where did the name of the blog come from. As it's a very cool title indeed.

I wanted the name of the blog to be something meaningful, really encapsulating what I’m trying to do with it. I started thinking about some of the more tougher aspects of supporting the heavy underground, primarily when a band just doesn’t make it or slips through the cracks. Sometimes, when I’m promoting some of these bands I feel like I’m actually screaming from the abyss or amid some noisy chaos so that hardly anyone hears me. But I’ll keep screaming…loudly.

You're also known by the name Doomcakes. Where did that name come from.

Everyone thinks my nickname is Doomcakes because I bake cakes and things a lot…and I do! But it’s actually a play on the pet name “Babycakes”. For me, it’s descriptive of the duality of my personality. Someone once said to me, “Stephanie, you’re so weird. One minute you’re giddy over shoes and makeup and the next you’re in your basement lifting weights, growling, and listening to music that scares me.” Basically, I can be both very feminine and very...brutal. :)

Have it surprised you the response your page has received from both fans and bands within the underground scene since you've started the page.

Oh my, yes! When I started my Instagram page, it was just a hobby of sorts, a place to post about the music I love that most people I knew personally found to be “weird”. Much to my astonishment, there are countless other people out there who really dig obscure music. I’ve made a ton of awesome connections with other fans that have been very meaningful. Of course, the response from bands has been equally great.

Bands in the underground scene are generally very approachable; they’re genuine people who are almost always incredibly grateful for any support you give them, even if it’s just a mention on social media. My favorite thing is when my relationship with bands turns into one of mutual support; that really means a lot to me. Definitely not something you’d experience as a blogger in mainstream music!

What is your favourite style of music from the Underground scene in general. And what style of music you cannot stand within the underground scene as well.

That’s a tough one! My favorite genres in the underground are primarily stoner rock, desert rock, psychedelic rock, and grunge/alternative. I can’t really think of a style that I can’t stand…rather, I don’t know if you could call this a style, but I hate it when people put something out that is quite literally just a bunch of noise, and/or it’s drowning so much in effects that there’s no discernible music anywhere. I call it “a chipmunk caught in a lawnmower” because that’s what it often sounds like to me!

Can you advise folks what a normal week is like for you when writing a new post for the blog. Do you spend an endless amount of time on BandCamp, YouTube and other streaming platforms searching for the best music currently out there.

I think people would be surprised to know just how much time it takes to write a good review! Generally, I’ll give an album at least one initial listen, listen again and make notes, then listen a final time as I’m writing to make sure I caught everything and to be as detailed as possible. If I did it all in one sitting, it would probably take me the bulk of a day to write one of my really in-depth reviews, but I usually break that up into an hour or two each evening until it’s done. I also like to write a little bit, sleep on it, then come back the next day with a fresh set of eyes to ensure I’m getting my point across the way that I want to. It’s incredibly important to me that I give it my best effort; like I said, the bands deserve that.

I’m listening to music almost constantly, no joke. I really like how streaming platforms will often list similar artists to the one you’re currently listening to (“If you like x then you’ll love y!”). I find a lot of great music that way, and I often spend hours just going further down the rabbit hole; it’s genuinely a lot of fun for me.

You’re a member of the Doom Charts. How did you get involved with the Doom Charts.

Scott from Clean and Sober Stoner actually nominated me almost as soon as I started writing for him, and I’ve been with the Doom Charts since September 2023.

Has it surprised you how well liked the Doom Charts have become and well respected by the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community in general.

Yes, and no. I can only speak for myself, but it’s very uncanny to be approached by a lot of bands. I’m still feeling like, “You don’t understand, I’m just some random chick!” So in that way, it’s very surprising. Conversely, it’s not incredibly surprising because a lot of work goes into the Doom Charts; a lot of time is spent and a lot of great words are written. I read some of the blurbs from my fellow contributors and I’m floored, thinking some of these people should actually be writing for Rolling Stone or something!

You're becoming highly respected within the Doom/Stoner Metal community. What things do you like being involved with the community. Are there certain aspects you don't like when promoting bands across the entire scenes.

My favorite things are the connections with others; those are invaluable and mean so much to me. That goes for bands, fans, bloggers, and everyone in the community. The singular thing that I don’t like is saying no to a band when their music isn’t really up my alley. It truly breaks my heart when I can’t help, but I always try to think of someone who can.

Which band, artist or album got you involved with the Doom/Sludge/Stoner scene.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but it was actually Danzig! As a very sheltered kid, Danzig was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard. I found out many years later that Danzig is classified as doom metal, and that got me searching for other bands in the genre. In turn, that led me into the underground doom scene, and I ended up liking the underground doom bands infinitely more than many of the mainstream ones.

What are your favourite bands from within the scene itself. Any great bands that folks should know about.

Ah, I love this question! I’ll always say Giant Lungs first. They’re an amazing stoner/desert band from Germany who released their debut album in October 2023. Not only does Giant Lungs play stoner/desert music incredibly well, but the lyrics and vocals really make it unique, giving it a beating heart. There’s some very cool imagery within those lyrics but also some incredibly relatable things, very specific things for me personally, delivered primarily via metaphor that quite literally stopped me in my tracks when I heard it. I can never recommend this band enough.

Another great one for my fellow grunge fans would be Yeast Machine, another German band who just released their debut full-length album! They have a very authentic 90s grunge sound and a ton of passion.

On the psychedelic/prog side of the scene, I highly recommend Mouth; they have an incredible 60s/70s sound and their music always makes me feel so happy and energized.

Finally, if straight-up stoner rock is your thing, you have to check out Transonic Science. These guys have been pillars of the German stoner rock scene for almost 30 years now. Their sound really exemplifies the grittiness and energy that we associate with stoner rock.

You have a wide range of musical tastes across different genres. What are your favourite genres of music and why do they appeal to you.

I think my favorite genre, the one that really has my heart, is grunge. It’s a genre that, to me, feels like sunshine at the end of a storm. Lyrics are often very emotive, centered around the human experience and some of its darker aspects. Vocals and instrumentals alike are often simultaneously melancholic and bright and soaring…

Sometimes it makes you want to cry, sometimes it makes you want to jump in the pit, but no other genre resonates with me emotionally the way grunge does.

I think Jerry Cantrell says it best: “Darkness was always part of [it], but it wasn’t ALL about that…We were talking about what was going on at the time, but within that there was always a survivor element - a kind of triumph over the darker elements of being a human being.

That’s the very essence of grunge itself.

Which physical media do you prefer – Cassette, CD or Vinyl.

I prefer streaming! I feel like a bunch of people will come to my house and beat me up after reading that, but I admit it. I stream everything, mainly because I’m way too cheap to be a collector of vinyl and I’m a very tidy person who doesn’t like a lot of things lying around her house. However, I’ll never deny the fond memories I have of listening to Elvis records at my grandmother’s house as a kid. Nothing compares to that sound of the needle dropping.

How do you relax away from the crazy world of blogging. As we all need time away to chill out.

Oddly enough, I listen to more music! I take a break from being in “discovery mode” and listen to some of my old favorites, especially 90s indie/alternative. I also love cooking, I’m in the kitchen quite frequently whipping up some kind of concoction. I really love learning new things in general, especially when it comes to languages and scientific topics like space and biology (I’m a bit of a nerd, admittedly). 

My favorite way to de-stress, however, is to hit the gym. I call it my “church”; the combination of working out while listening to music is a spiritual experience for me…it’s the ultimate purge of both physical and emotional energy. I’m quite the curmudgeon if I don’t get my gym time a few times per week!

Thanks for doing this interview Stephapie. Do you have any final words of wisdom you would like to share with us all.

As stereotypical as it may sound: never settle. Keep learning and growing until the end. Always strive to be better as a human being and to be fulfilled. That being said, do what makes you love regardless of whether or not other people think that it’s silly (unless, of course, you’re a serial killer or something. That’s not cool). If it makes you happy, it’s a good thing. Be kind to and patient with yourself. You deserve it.

Words by Steve Howe and Stephanie "Doomcakes" Zalta

Thanks to Stephanie for taking the time the time out to talking to me.

Check out Stephanie's great blog over at Screaming From The Heavy Underground