Article and Photos by Andrés Alvarado
Metal powerhouses Mastodon and Coheed and Cambria are not to be trifled with. Co-headlining the insanely heavy and rambunctious Unheavenly Skye Tour, these juggernauts of head-banging bravado reigned down onto Atlanta’s swanky Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre with an arsenal of punchy anthems and full throttle badassery that melted faces within the sold-out crowd on hand. In a nutshell, the principal idea behind the Unheavenly Skye Tour was a mashup of hometown heroes, Mastodon, performing (in a majority) bangers off their acclaimed Crack The Skye LP; and New York rockers, Coheed and Cambria, further promoting their ninth studio album, Vaxis — Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures. Long story short, with the venue packed front-to-back and side-to-side, the performances were stout, hardcore, and simply memorable as fuck. Then again, would any other result be expected from this duo? We think not.
Up first were Atlanta local idols, Mastodon, and their never-ending stockpile of intense alt-metal energy. The quartet were a force to be reckoned with from the second their feet hit the stage. A background of dynamic strobes and psychedelic graphic screens decorate the deck as these veterans jam out with the gusto of men half their age. Drummer Brann Dailor and his neon funky kit — composed of gnarly sketches and hanging clown masks — is quick to grab the collective attention of onlookers; yet his captivating banging of the barrels and hi-hats is what retains said attention, and builds up the roar of Mastodon’s eardrum shattering performance. Bassist and madman, Troy Sanders, is one helluva of a star. Producing wacky grins and hair-flailing instances are just an added bonus to his charismatic low growl vocals and fingerstyle bass-playing antics. All the while, on opposite far ends of the dais, string-men Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher go about their evening in a more do-the-walk-and-don’t-talk approach. Sure, the pair perform vocally on a few, but overall the Kelliher-Hinds duo are generally on a rock-star idiosyncrasies plan of attack; brimming of solo shreds and larger-than-life adrenaline-induced howls at the crowd, Hinds and Kelliher add the oomph needed to make Mastodon a walk-on-the-wild-side kind of performance.
Following the amped-up shenanigans of Mastodon is no stroll through the park, but The Big Apple’s Coheed and Cambria raised to the occasion. The closing act of the night opened in dramatic fashion; as a towering bleached curtain displaying the intertwined triangles and circles that make up the Coheed keywork logo signaled the entrance of the Claudio Sanchez-led four-piece. The venue was gearing up for mayhem — and once the drapery descended, all hell broke loose.
After a short prologue, Coheed and Cambria blaze up the atmosphere with a blistering rendition of “The Dark Sentencer,” and a thundering mood is set. Shaggy-haired Sanchez is a volatile force of nature on the mic and on the platform. Armed with a cream-colored Gibson — which proudly displays a Puerto Rican flag — and all black attire, Sanchez, at times, may stand still at the podium as he delivers his smooth-sounding tenor/falsetto, while at other times he seems to roam wild and free; enabling his bi-colored long woolly strands to electrify his every move. To Claudio’s left and right stand Zach Cooper and Travis Stever, respectively. These two wizards of the string are of a mild-mannered approach, yet confidently blast out emphatically booming notes nonstop with the best of them. Then there is Coheed and Cambria drummer, Josh Eppard, and his kid-in-a-candy-store technique of play. Eppard, for all intents and purposes, may be the happiest person on Earth when executing his talents for the masses. While Eppard is a most talented musician, his backdrop showmanship is the embodiment of every Coheed and Cambria note played.
All said and done, the Unheavenly Skye Tour is not for the faint of heart or casual fans looking for mere entertainment. No. The Unheavenly Skye Tour is for the enthusiastic metalhead looking to rage out, mosh out, and chorus their little voice out to epic anthems from two of rocks most creative outfits. Mastodon and Coheed and Cambria’s Unheavenly Skye Tour is all about the music, all about a kick-ass time, and all about those diehards that pack the house time after time without fail.