Opeth, Heritage Roadrunner


Like most technically demanding styles, prog-metal is never any good unless you play it with conviction; add Floyd-like orchestral dynamics and Zep-ish mysticism, and you’ve got Sweden’s Opeth. Uruguayan bassist Martin Mendez has anchored the group since 1999, and he just keeps getting better. Blistering precision riffage is de rigueur (the head-banging “Slither,” for example), but Mendez gets to probe the outer edges of tone and color throughout the album; he uses a soft touch in the opening movement of the creepy ballad/anthem “Opeth,” and he’s a D-tuned heavy-treading golem in the epic “The Lines of My Hand.” Then there’s the jazz-fusion nugget “Nepenthe” and “Folklore,” where Mendez throws off fi nely wrought notes like an ever-branching and cascading river. Is this one for the true bass heads among us? Bet on it.


Bobby Hackney: Motor City Madness, Reanimated

Less than two minutes into the eye-openinG 2012 rockumentary A Band Called Death, guitarist Vernon Reid pretty much sums up what everyone else has been thinking about the Detroit-based power trio whose long-lost debut, ...For the Whole World to See, turned history on its head when it was rediscovered and released in 2009, nearly 35 years after the fact.

Mavis Staples, Jeff Turmes, Soulful Simplicity

THERE’S A MOMENT BETWEEN songs on Mavis Staples’s Live: Hope at the Hideout when the singer declares her mission about as succinctly as any musician can: “We’ve come tonight to bring you some joy, happiness, inspiration, and positive vibrations,” she purrs in her signature sandpaper growl.