Skooma of Columbia, Missouri could be best described as a stoner metal group playing epic doom songs. The musicianship on their debut album, Seven Foot Death, constantly teeters on the line between harshness and melody. The filthy guitar tone is further reinforced by the raw production job, the vocals are a husky baritone that occasionally descend into a gravely bellow, and the structures are often driven by loose swinging rhythms, psychedelic leads, and bluesy solos.
Despite this rough and ready presentation, the compositions themselves have an almost grandiose flare to them. There is a sense of buildup that can be felt throughout as riffs take on a monolithic approach and psychedelic dynamics on songs like “Spider Queen” and “Tree of Might” have narrative tension at work. The song titles on Seven Foot Death are enough to suggest that it is a concept album, but even if it isn’t, it sure seems to have a uniform vibe that it wants to convey.
While this format works well in the confines of a thirty-four-minute runtime, the shorter lengths do occasionally clip its wings. “Transmutations” sets the stage well as an atmospheric introduction, and “Vermin” follows it up with a particularly doom-y riff set, but the latter feels somewhat unfinished. It’s not a bad song at all, but I can easily imagine it transitioning into a faster tempo or even reprising its predecessor in some way. Luckily, it’s almost always better to be too short than too long and this is certainly no exception.
Much like the efforts by Temptation’s Wings and Indy’s own Witchdoctor (RIP), Skooma does a pretty stellar job of mixing doom theatrics with sludge muscle. A few extended song lengths in conjunction with a slightly modified track order would’ve made this album’s impact even more powerful, but it’s a breezy listen that demands a lot of replay value as it stands. If anything, it’s an excellent sampler of things to come that will jive well with fans of such groups Down, Kyuss, and Elder.
“Tree of Might”