Swedish band Opeth is perhaps the most representative example of the prog-metal form extant. Since emerging in 1990 as exemplars of a rather sinister strain of black metal, the band – led by guitarist, singer and principal songwriter Mikael Akerfeldt – has steadily added more influences to its ever-expanding sound, ranging from folk, classical and jazz, to classic prog-rock. The result has been tough for some hardcore fans of the band’s earliest work to deal with, as Opeth’s music began to become more and more difficult to classify.

Akerfeldt’s apotheosis into full-fledged progressive musician was fully apparent with the release last year of the “Storm Corrosion” album, a project that found him teaming with old friend Steven Wilson for an album of epic, slow-moving prog tunes that echoed prog giants like Pink Floyd. This recording supports Akerfeldt’s quote to Metal Hammer magazine from around the same time: “I don’t see the point of playing in a band and going just one way when you can do everything. It would be impossible for us to play just death metal; that is our roots, but we are now a mishmash of everything, and not purists to any form of music. It’s impossible for us to do that, and quite frankly I would think of it as boring to be in a band that plays just metal music. We’re not afraid to experiment, or to be caught with our pants down, so to speak. That’s what keeps us going.”

Touring also keeps Opeth going, and in a coup for area fans of forward-looking metal, the group’s current tour involves a stop at 8 tonight in the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Katatonia will open. Tickets are $28 (box office,

Evans brings it home

Buffalo born-and-raised Alan Evans, renowned funk/soul drummer with Soulive, brings his trio back to Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) at 8 tonight. After working with the Groove and Moon Boot Lover, Evans co-founded Soulive with his brother Neal some 15 years ago. Since then, he’s been exploring a more open-ended, jam-inflected strain of funk in the trio, with the help of guitarist Danny Mayer and organist Beau Sasser. C’mon out and get your Eddie Hazel on! Admission at the door will be $12. Smackdab and Verse will open.

Cast your vote

Starting Monday, fans will be able to vote for Niagara Falls ensemble Whiskey Reverb in the annual Hard Rock Rising contest. The band took the top spot in the regional battle of the bands, and will now compete against 95 other groups from around the world, each of whom took top honors in their respective cities. The top 25 bands following this round of voting will then move on to the final round. The eventual grand prize winner will perform on the bill of the annual Hard Rock Calling Festival in London this summer. Visit to cast your vote.

Gig picks

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes bring their brand of fiery R&B and old-school rock ’n’ roll to the Bear’s Den, Seneca Niagara Casino, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $50. Visit

Funk-jam-reggae collective the Heavy Pets, with guests Funktional Flow and Family Function and the Sitar Jams, take over Nietzsche’s at 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 advance, $12 day of show. Find them through

The Hillside Crowd Jam is a full bill of free music held at noon Saturday adjacent to the Student Union on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus in Amherst. The music and arts minifestival will feature performances from Aqueous, Haewa, the Other Brothers, the Heady Yettis, the Assortment of Crayons and others. Do a dance to bring the sunshine!

For those of you who recall the glory days of Lollapalooza, you surely remember the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow and its troop of contortionists, freaks and modern-day “carny” daredevils. To a soundtrack of the era’s finest alternative and alt-metal, the sideshow married the theatrical irreverence of the carnival life to the well-inked, multiple-piercing present of Generation X.

Now, a new generation of Rose acolytes has emerged in the form of the troop Helzzapoppin, a sideshow revue that picks up where Rose left off. Expect to see the heretofore unseen when Helzzapoppin takes over the Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.) at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 (

Steven Wilson brings his band to the Town Ballroom for a highly anticipated show at 8 p.m. Sunday. Look for my interview with Wilson in Sunday’s Spotlight section of The News.

Industrial-metal pioneers Fear Factory headline a bill at the Rapids Theatre (1711 Main St., Niagara Falls). Kobra and the Loyus, Hate Eternal and Low Road Revival will share opening act duties. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of show (box office,