My Rock and Roll Journey: Michael Del Pizzo – Sunflower Dead – Chapter 1


Written by Michael Del Pizzo (Sunflower Dead)


What  Made Me Wanna Be A Rockstar?!?!

What made me, a little kid (at the time) from just outside Philadelphia, PA take the road to rock stardom and turn into a guy who now wears a bunch of makeup, sings and plays the accordion in Sunflower Dead?  Well, I am a weirdo!  Really though, it’s an interesting question.  I mean, for a long time, being a “rockstar” was a negative thing.  Remember the ‘90s?  Loved the music, but hated the whole ‘we are trying to be regular people’ thing.

In my humble opinion, it all starts with the music, but when you have something special, that “it factor,” that is when you become a rockstar.  It can happen in different ways with different looks, but once you have “it,” you are a rockstar whether you want it or not.

I can easily narrow down my desire for rock stardom into three events, like the three ghosts that visited Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.  Yep, it was these three events that led me to this whole rockstar thing (with a side of WEIRDNESS).

Event one started back in the day when there was this little thing called MTV, you know…Music Television.  Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy, but there was actually a time when this thing was HOT and really, truly played music videos.  When I was a kid, I didn’t have cable, so I didn’t have MTV.  I would go to my friend’s house and watch the music videos like they were crack though.  I mean, I couldn’t take my eyes off them.  One day, this video came on the screen with this guy screaming at a kid…“WHAT DO YOU WANNA DO WITH YOUR LIFE?!”  The response, which EVERYONE should know, was…“I WANNA ROCK!”  Just like that, the kid in the video transformed into a big-haired, makeup-wearing thing known as Dee Snider.  I looked at my friend and said…“What is THAT?”  He was like, “THAT is Twisted Sister.”  I responded…“I have no idea what a Twisted Sister is, but THAT is what I wanna be when I grow up.”  Looking back on it now, those are some mighty big words coming from a little boy.  But hey, I guess I always knew what I wanted.

That Christmas, my Aunt and Uncle ended up buying me Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry album, and there I was, immersed in songs like “Burn In Hell” and “Captain Howdy.”  I would stare at the pictures of the band for hours while reading the lyrics and seeing myself perform the songs.  Remember that last statement… “SEEING MYSELF PERFORM THE SONGS,” it is an important one that we will talk about at a later time.

Event two happened around the same time as my whole Twisted Sister extravaganza.  I had a neighbor who was much older than me (he was in high school at the time).  He would sit on his porch, play his guitar and read heavy metal magazines all day.  One day, I walked over to his house, and all I remember is him telling me about this guy who had died named Randy Rhoads (the guitar player in Ozzy Osborne’s band).  My neighbor knew I liked horror movies, so he started telling me that Ozzy’s next album would be him dressed like a werewolf.  Of course, I thought that was so cool.  So, I started walking across the street everyday to hang out with Bobby, and we began this very inappropriate relationship…HAHA got ya.  Get your minds out of the gutter you sickos!  Actually, he would tell me all about heavy metal…Motley Crue, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc.  He laughed that I liked Twisted Sister, but he did gave me their You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll album on vinyl.  He said the album was lame, but I loved it (and still do), and still have it to this day.

I remember sitting there and drawing pictures of stage sets and rockstars performing.  Lo and behold, I was actually drawing pictures of me performing as I was getting my first class in heavy metal and rockstar education.  Remember, I never saw rockstars performing to me.  I always saw me as them.

Event three happened a few years later.  I must have been in middle school.  I was sitting in the back of my parent’s car on a Sunday, and a radio countdown was on.  The number one song came on the air, and I remember my Mom saying…“that’s the number one song in the country?”  Haha, the song was U2’s “With Or Without You.”  To me, it is one of the greatest songs ever written, but that is a different topic altogether.  Back to the point…as the song was playing, all I could see was me performing in front of 20,000 people.  Now, I had yet to be a singer, so it was odd to me that I had a vision of me singing in front of all those people, but hey, that’s where my mind was going, and I went with it.  Down the line, I really went with it!

Realistically, it was quite a few years later before I started my journey of playing in bands (and believe me, it’s an interesting one).

It was these three events that let me know what I was put on earth to do.  They fueled my desire at a very young age to be a musician.  Not just a musician, but a songwriter, an entertainer, a businessman and a ROCKSTAR.  Unfortunately, all rockstars have to start somewhere, and for this guy, it was the BOTTOM, and man it was bad.  We will talk about that later as the chapters of my story unfold…

Stay Weird,

Michael – SFD


My Rock and Roll Journey: Tony Housh – Seasons After – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey: Sal Costa – Smashing Satellites – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey: Joey “Chicago” Walser – Devour The Day – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey: Adam Troy – Sonic X – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey: Shaun Soho – Crash Midnight – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey: Tony LaSelva – Ugly Melon – Chapter 1

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown – Week of 9-24-16

Octane Logo

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown for the week of 9-24-16.

The 9-24-16 Big ‘Uns Countdown playlist can also be found on (the HRD YouTube channel), in addition to archived playlists dating back to 2013.  Links to reviews of songs from the countdown are featured at the bottom of the page.

#15 –  “Square Hammer” – GHOST

#14 –  “Dark Daze” – SYLAR

#13 –  “My Name Is Human” – HIGHLY SUSPECT

#12 –  “Amnesia” – RED SUN RISING

#11 –  “Stuck In Your Head” – I PREVAIL

#10 –  “I Don’t Care Anymore” – HELLYEAH


# 8 –   “Excuse Me” – FIRE FROM THE GODS

# 7 –   “Stranded” – GOJIRA

# 6 –   “Seal The Deal” – VOLBEAT

# 5 –   “Remember We Die” – GEMINI SYNDROME

# 4 –   “Open Your Eyes” – DISTURBED

# 3 –   “I Apologize” – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH

# 2 –   “Hardwired” – METALLICA

# 1 –    “Rotting In Vain” – KORN



2016 Active Rock Radio / Octane Quarterly Report: Q2

2016 Active Rock Radio / Octane Quarterly Report: Q1

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2015

Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015

2015 Mid-Year Recap: HRD Radio Report Active Rock and Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2014

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014

Top 15 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs: January 2014 – June 2014

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Archives

Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 9/22/16


Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 9/22/16

Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).

Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs.   On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.

In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.



 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

W.A.S.P. – “The Idol” (1992)

When you think of rock concept albums, one of the best of all-time – W.A.S.P.’s The Crimson Idol – is often times overlooked.  Lyrically and musically, the album ranks right up there with classics like Queenryche’s Operation: Mindcrime and Rush’s 2112.  In some ways, it’s unfair to cherry-pick one particular track from a concept album because you lose context, but in the case of The Crimson Idol, the songs are strong enough to stand on their own.  The challenge then becomes choosing just one to share.

“The Idol” is an outstanding representation of the The Crimson Idol album, and should whet your appetite enough to make you want to experience the full album as it is intended.  Originally, this album was slated to be a Blackie Lawless solo record, but was put under the W.A.S.P. moniker due to fan pressure.  If the fans were able to have their voices heard in the early ‘90s before the internet and social media, one can only imagine what kind of resistance Lawless would have been met with these days.  Regardless of labeling, the fact of the matter is that The Crimson Idol is not only one of the best concept albums of all-time, but one of the best rock albums of all-time.  Personally speaking, this one is worthy of being a desert island disc.

“The Idol” is just the tip of the iceberg as to what this album has to offer.  After you check this song out, I strongly suggest listening to the album in its entirety.

IRON MAIDEN “Can I Play With Madness?” (1988)

While W.A.S.P.’s The Crimson Idol concept album is one that is not nearly as well-known as it should be, Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is well-known, but some may not realize that it is a concept album.  Maiden lyrics are always intelligent and often times historically-based, so those listening to the songs outside of the confines of the album might not realize that there is an overarching storyline.

Like most of Maiden’s work, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is the brainchild of bassist Steve Harris.  The idea for the album came to Harris after reading Orson Scott Card’s Seventh Son.  According to Harris…

“It was our seventh studio album and I didn’t have a title for it or any ideas at all.  Then I read the story of the seventh son, this mystical figure that was supposed to have all of these paranormal gifts like second sight and what have you, and it was more, at first, that it was just a good title for the seventh album.”

“Can I Play With Madness?” is the lead single from an album that also includes classics like “The Evil That Men Do” and “The Clairvoyant.”  The song is about a young man who wants to learn the future from an old prophet with a crystal ball.  The young man thinks that he’s going mad, and looks to the old prophet to help him with visions/nightmares.  What’s notable about the song is the fact that it starts with powerful vocal intro before launching into the traditional Maiden galloping pacing.



 ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout

ICED EARTH “I Died For You” (1996)

One of the most under-rated thrash/metal bands is Florida’s Iced Earth.  The band has released more than eleven albums, including some with former Judas Priest singer Tim Owens sing for them.  “I Died for You” – from the band’s album The Dark Saga – is the song that got me interested in Iced Earth.  Probably one of the most metal love songs ever written, the album follows the story line of one of my favorite comic books, Spawn.  The cover of the album was even drawn by the comic book creator, Todd McFarlane.  This song and the album is classic Iced Earth…heavy, melodic and memorable.


NEVERMORE “Enemies of Reality” (2003)

In the realm of thrash metal, Jeff Loomis is a pretty well-known name because of his playing style and impressive guitar work.  Couple that with the songwriting and vocals of Warrel Dane, and you have a great thrash metal band.  “Enemies of Reality” is a great all-around metal tune from their fifth album of the same.  The song’s subject matter is dark and nihilistic through and through, the guitars complex and the rhythm section intricate enough (but not overpowering) to allow for the vocals and guitars to stand out.  Loomis now plays for Arch Enemy, but fans of Nevermore will notice that his guitar playing in his former band was much more open, free and complex (probably due to his collaboration with Dane).  Let’s hope for a reunion one of these days.




BADLANDS – “High Wire” (1989)

In the late ‘80s, having just finished a successful tour with Ozzy Osbourne in support of The Ultimate Sin, guitarist Jake E. Lee received some shocking news in a telegram from Sharon Osbourne…he was fired.  He would then team with former Black Sabbath members Ray Gillen and Eric Singer to form Badlands.  “High Wire” opens the band’s self-titled debut album. They would go on to release a second album, Voodoo Highway, shortly after which they would break up.  Though they never reunited, and Ray Gillen would die a few years later, in 1998 they put out a third album, Dusk, from previously unreleased material.


KIX – “Cold Blood” (1988)

American hard rock band Kix formed in the late ‘70s and put out their first album in 1981, but it was with 1988’s Blow My Fuse that they achieved their first major commercial success. They put out their latest album just two years ago, and remain active on the concert scene, where they never skip this hit from their breakout album.




PAUL GILBERT – “Fuzz Universe” (2010)

“Fuzz Universe” is the title track to the 3rd full-length album from guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X).  Gilbert composes music in a wide variety of styles.  His amazing hand speed is always on display, along with his clear articulation of complex passages and his notable staccato picking technique.  Sit back and enjoy this excellent, epic jam.


CHICKENFOOT – “Dubai Blues” (2011)

“Dubai Blues” is part of the great Chickenfoot III album, which is actually the second release from the band, not the third.  Sammy, Satch, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith are at the top of their game here.  Musically excellent and immensely cool, this great tune speaks to having all of the riches in the world (except for the girl).

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums – 10/1/16

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums

Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart for the week ending 10/1/16.  Top 15 albums ranked by sales data and compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.


      1. OF MICE & MEN – Cold War
      2. A DAY TO REMEMBER – Bad Vibrations
      3. NORMA JEAN – Polar Similar
      4. THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – Transcendence
      5. ZZ TOP – LIVE: Greatest Hits From Around The World
      6. SKILLET – Unleashed
      7. DISTURBED – Immortalized
      8. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – Got Your Six
      9. ARTIFEX PEREO – Passengers
      10. PROPHETS OF RAGE – The Party’s Over (EP)
      11. VOLBEAT -Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie
      12. REV THEORY – The Revolution
      13. EVERGREY – The Storm Within
      14. DEFTONES – Gore
      15. CHEVELLE – The North Corridor


Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2015

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2014

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2013

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums Archives

HRD Radio Report – Week Ending 9/17/16



The HRD Radio Report showcases the weekly Active Rock Mediabase Charts (compiled by, and appears every Tuesday on  The HRD Radio Report digs deeper into the weekly Active Rock charts, providing commentary, reviews, recommendations and predictions.  It also features opinion pieces on chart action and the music business in general.

Many of the artists featured on the Active Rock charts have already been reviewed on

2016 Active Rock Radio / Octane Quarterly Report: Q2  

The following is the Active Rock Mediabase Chart for the week ending 9/17/16.  All exclusive HRD content is featured below the chart:

1 1 GREEN DAY “Bang Bang” 2191
2 2 METALLICA “Hardwired” 2084
3 3 PRETTY RECKLESS “Take Me Down” 2027
4 5 PROPHETS OF RAGE “Prophets Of Rage” 1240
5 7 KORN “Rotting In Vain” 1222
6 4 POP EVIL “Take It All” 1192
7 6 3 DOORS DOWN “Still Alive” 1183
8 9 SKILLET “Feel Invincible” 1098
9 10 DISTURBED “Open Your Eyes” 1088
10 11 DEFTONES “Phantom Bride” 1011
11 14 FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH “I Apologize” 944
12 15 HELLYEAH “I Don’t Care Anymore” 855
13 8 RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS “Dark Necessities” 840
14 12 CHEVELLE “Joyride” 796
15 17 SIXX: A.M. “Prayers For The Damned” 756
16 13 BLINK-182 “Bored To Death” 742
17 21 VOLBEAT “Seal The Deal” 738
18 16 THRICE “Black Honey” 708
19 19 ZAKK WYLDE (f. COREY TAYLOR) “Sleeping Dogs” 676
20 18 TWENTY ONE PILOTS “Heathens” 581
21 23 CITIZEN ZERO “Go (Let Me Save You)” 578
22 22 RED SUN RISING “Amnesia” 567
23 20 KALEO “Way Down We Go” 451
24 24 ALTER BRIDGE “Show Me A Leader” 418
25 38 HIGHLY SUSPECT “My Name Is Human” 414
26 25 GEMINI SYNDROME “Remember We Die” 318
27 28 DINOSAUR PILE-UP “11:11” 298
28 27 THE RECORD COMPANY “Off The Ground” 289
29 26 ISLANDER “Bad Guy” 281
31 35 BEARTOOTH “Hated” 217
32 31 LETTERS FROM THE FIRE “Give In To Me” 202
33 119 KINGS OF LEON “Waste A Moment” 198
34 30 PARKWAY DRIVE “Devil’s Calling” 197
35 33 SHAMAN’S HARVEST “Here It Comes” 187
36 61 A DAY TO REMEMBER “Naivety” 183
37 36 BRIDGE TO GRACE “Left  Inside” 168
38 41 BLACK STONE CHERRY “Soul Machine” 167
39 34 SEPTEMBER MOURNING “Eye Of The Storm” 164
40 43 OF MICE & MEN “Real” 162
41 39 BRING ME THE HORIZON “Avalanche” 161
42 37 I PREVAIL “Stuck In Your Head” 161
43 42 FOALS “What Went Down” 146
44 45 ONE LESS REASON “Break Me” 138
45 44 TRAPT “It’s Over” 138
46 49 RIVAL SONS “Thundering Voices” 117
47 48 KILLSWITCH ENGAGE “Cut Me Loose” 98
48 52 SHALLOW SIDE “Rebel” 97
49 47 SICK PUPPIES “Where Do I Begin” 95
50 46 THE STRUTS “Put Your Money On Me” 90



DEVOUR THE DAY – “The Bottom”

Hitting rock bottom is hard.  Having the self-awareness to realize that you are the cause of it is even harder.  Wanting to get back to where you were before your descent is noble, but also incredibly challenging.  All of this is conveyed in “The Bottom,” the latest single by Devour The Day.  This is a song with a much different vibe than “Lightning In The Sky” and “S.O.A.R.” (the title track off of the band’s most recent release).  By capturing the tortured angst of the lyrics without resorting to the growling that has become prevalent in similar songs, Devour The Day has threaded the needle with “The Bottom.”  Listening to this thought-provoking song almost feels like an invasion of privacy, a fly-on-the-wall view (if you will) inside a personal battle.  “The Bottom” is certainly not for the faint of heart.  It shows a darker side of Devour The Day that should resonate with fans of edgier Active Rock.




As predicted last week, Metallica’s  “Hardwired” seems destined for #1.  Based on this week’s spins, it looks like the coronation should take place next week or two.  That’s not an unusual turn of events.  What is unusual is that it’s possible that the top 3 (Green Day, Metallica and Pretty Reckless), will continue to jockey for positions at the top.  All three showed another strong increase in spins this week, and each now resides in the 2000+ spin region.  The closest competitor to these three that is enjoying similar growth is Volbeat, but they are still almost 1300 spins behind #3.  It looks like they won’t be making up significant ground until these three plateau or start to drop.  Highly Suspect is also showing strong support, but they are over 300 spins behind Volbeat at the moment.  Both of these songs were listed as “two to watch” last week, and that remains true, but there is a lot of ground to make up before we start talking about them making a serious run at #1.


HRD SPIN CONTROL (by Adam Waldman and Jon Loveless)

Each week, we will share the songs that we think should be added to rotations, alongside the songs that we feel should be dropped from rotations, either because they are a bad fit for the format, or because they have run their course and it’s time for a new single from the artist.




YOUNG GUNS“Bulletproof”

SILVERTUNG“Devil’s Advocate”

DOPE “Hold On”

CROBOT“Not For Sale”


CROWN THE EMPIRE“Weight Of The World”



Kings Of Leon“Waste A Moment”

Dinosaur Pile-Up “11:11”

Kaleo“Way Down We Go”

Twenty One Pilots – “Heathens”

Foals“What Went Down”

Deftones“Phantom Bride”

The Struts“Put Your Money On Me”

Pop Evil“Take It All”



THE BREAKDOWN by Jon Loveless


It’s three weeks at #1 for Green Day on the Mediabase Active Rock Airplay chart, despite gains by both #2 Metallica.and former chart-topper Pretty Reckless at #3.  Everything else is so far behind the top 3 that it almost seems like they’re on a different chart.



Deftones replace Red Hot Chili Peppers in the Top 10…

Volbeat is the only new arrival in the Top 20…

A strong move by Highly Suspect propels them into the Top 30…

Four songs are new to the Top 40 this week, led by an extraordinary start for the latest single by Kings Of Leon

Of three songs making their chart debut this week, only one breaks in in the 40s – “Rebel” – the latest from Shallow Side (aka “my favorite song of the summer”).




Green Day“Bang Bang”


Pretty Reckless – “Take Me Down”



Pop Evil“Take It All”

Red Hot Chili Peppers“Dark Necessities”




Three to rule them all.  No matter how you feel about any of the songs at the top of the chart this week, their dominance is certainly notable.  2000+ spins for a #1 isn’t all that unusual; it’s somewhat out of the ordinary for the first and second most played to top that figure (but not unheard of).  But three songs at that level at the same time, AND with all three still showing increased airplay, well, that stands out.  It seems to largely be coming at the expense of the other songs in the Top 10 or so, which would indicate that virtually all of Active Rock radio has the same three songs in their heaviest rotation.  Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I guess that depends upon your seat at the table.



That’s all for this week.  Tune in to every Tuesday for the HRD Radio Report. \m/

Music Discovery Monday – 9/19/16


Music Discovery Monday – 9/19/16

Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.

In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.



 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

THE WINERY DOGS – “Captain Love”

I’ve yet to speak to anyone who has listened to The Winery Dogs (or see them in a live setting) give anything but positive feedback.  This is a pretty big accomplishment in a day and age when people feel emboldened by the anonymity of the internet to say any negative thing that comes to their mind.  Equally surprising to me is the fact that many people still aren’t familiar with this incredibly talented, virtuoso power trio that features Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen.

Once upon a time, this is the kind of band that would be all over rock radio, but these days, most people have discovered them either through word-of-mouth or by following the individual band members on social media.

Although The Winery Dogs are known for their virtuosity, “Captain Love” is one of the band’s more straight ahead blues rock songs.  From the band’s sophomore release, Hot Streak, “Captain Love” has a haunting quality in the same vein as the Deep Purple classic, “Perfect Strangers.”  Keeping the instrumentation less intricate affords Kotzen the opportunity to fill in the blanks with his brilliant vocals.

If The Winery Dogs have somehow managed to fly below your radar, here’s another chance to discover one of the best new bands in recent memory.

BILLY TALENT – “Afraid Of Heights”

Just as I am surprised that The Winery Dogs have yet to be discovered by many, I am just as surprised that Billy Talent has flown beneath my radar until recently.  There’s a lot of great music out there these days, sometimes too much to keep up with, so things can slip through the cracks.  I may be a bit late to the party, but I’m sure that there are many others who haven’t discovered the band yet either.

In late July, Billy Talent released their fifth studio album, Afraid Of Heights.  The title track is an interesting blend of Green Day-esque punk and Myles Kennedy’s work with Slash.  There’s something about soaring vocals and melodic harmonies with a punk foundation that adds another level of intrigue to a song, and the overall sound of the band.

An interesting side note about these Canadian rockers.  The band’s latest album was mastered for Klipsch Reference R6 and R6i on-ear headphones in order to address the new ways in which consumers access, control and connect to content.  This mastered-for-Klipsch headphones album ensures the band’s art, message and emotion translates to listeners they way that Billy Talent intended it to.



 ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout

PERIPHERY “Marigold”

Progressive metal band from Washington D.C. is back with their new album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty.  It is chock full of clean soaring vocals, strong writing and great chops from the band throughout the album.  Fans of bands such as Dream Theater will absolutely dig the heaviness and impressive compositions of this band.  Looking for outstanding musicianship?  Give these guys a listen.


BLACK CROWN INITIATE “Selves We Cannot Forgive”

In the realm of death metal, few bands can pull off the clean vocal/death metal growl mixture perfectly.  Opeth did it very well before eventually meandering to the cleaner side of progressive metal.  Black Crown Initiate is a Pennsylvania band that flawlessly brings much feeling and emotion to their songs (which is difficult to do in the death metal genre).  Their music is progressive, intricate and complex, with catchy vocals and death metal growls.  “Selves We Cannot Forgive,” (the title track from their new album) is a perfect example of how progressive death metal should be written.




THE AGONIST – “Take Me To Church”

Canadian metal band The Agonist will release their fifth album, Five, at the end of the month. It will be their second with new singer Vicky Psarakis, who is proving to be a great fit for the band.  On this bonus track from their upcoming release, she hauntingly, but powerfully, covers Hozier’s grammy-nominated hit from just a couple years ago.


SULLY ERNA – “Don’t Comfort Me”

When he isn’t fronting Godsmack, or holding his own in world class poker tournaments, Salvatore Paul “Sully” Erna can be found putting out some powerful solo material. Here’s one from his upcoming second solo album, Hometown Life (due out at the end of the month).




GRAHAM BONNET BAND – “My Kingdom Come”

Graham Bonett’s legendary voice has fronted some great bands: Rainbow, Alcatrazz, Michael Schenker Group and Impellitteri (to name a few).  In 2015 he formed the Graham Bonnet band, releasing a 2-song EP called My Kingdom Come.  This title track has everything you’d expect from Graham: tremendous power, wide range, his signature growl and a variety of styles that match the change of pace in the music, which although good, sits in second place to the vocals.  This tune is written by Russ Ballard – whom Bonnet teamed up with for perhaps his greatest performance, “Since You’ve Been Gone” (a song that he recorded with both Rainbow and Impellitteri).  The band will be releasing another studio album later this year.



The NY/NJ Area is home to Psychoprism, a power metal band formed in 2012.  “Chronos” is an intense track from their first full-length studio album, Creation.  A prog-metal opening gives way to a full power metal anthem with a heavy galloping rhythm.  The deft guitar work of Bill Visser and tremendous vocals from Jess Rittgers are the notable performances.



To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to –

My Rock and Roll Journey: Tony LaSelva – Ugly Melon – Chapter 1


Written by Tony LaSelva (Ugly Melon)

“My Rock and Roll Journey” started off like most artists, with an inspiration.  As a young child in the ‘70s, I discovered (and quickly became obsessed with) Elvis Presley.  He was in the twilight of his short life and career, but none of that meant anything to me.  I remember running home after school to watch his movies during ‘Elvis week.’  I’m not sure which network decided that would be a good idea, but I loved every minute of it.

Blue Hawaii and Fun in Acapulco were masterpieces in my mind.  There was something about Elvis that just captivated me…his charisma, his looks, and of course, his voice.  He truly was the king of rock and roll to me.  I remember singing “Hound Dog” on a table in front of my grade 1 classmates.  Elvis was my idol. I would wear out his records while singing along to the lyrics I had memorized.  I still have a real fondness for him.  Although the reality of his life has made my image of him less idealistic, in my eyes, he is (and always will be) “The King.”

From ‘50s and ‘60s Elvis tunes, I moved my obsession into classic rock and heavy metal.  The first hard rock song that really moved me was “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas.  Imagine my shock when my 18-year old son recently said to me…“Hey Dad, have you ever heard of this progressive rock band, Kansas?”  I didn’t even know what prog rock was until he introduced me to the moniker.  Rush, Yes, and even King Crimson were just great rock bands to me.

From there, I discovered Van Halen (my first concert was the Diver Down tour) Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.  My friends and I were so enthralled with Dio-era Sabbath, Rainbow, and the Deep Purple family of musicians, that we would quiz each other on the history of every detail of that group of amazing players.  We would ask questions like…

“Who sang backup on ‘Stormbringer’?”

“Name the lineup on Rainbow’s Rising record.”

“What was the first song Ronnie James Dio ever wrote with Sabbath?”

We were obsessed!  And with good reason.  Those were some truly historic recordings.  I still have those tracks on my playlists.  Timeless.

I joined my first real band while in junior high.  A three-piece group performed Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” in our cafeteria.  I was in awe!  Months later, I was the lead singer of the band. The guitar player, Lu Cacioppo, is now my other half in Ugly Melon.

The band was originally called Reign, and then eventually changed to Frost.  We played a bunch of gigs in the Toronto area.  Our parents had to sign waivers in order for us to play some of the clubs in town.  We had a blast!  We were close friends that spent so much time together, and rehearsed every day.

An interesting side note…

The video for Ugly Melon’s “Leave it all behind” brings the original members of Reign back together. Franklyn Wyles is on drums and John Liberatore is on bass.  We hope to perform with this lineup in the near future.

Back to the story…

Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Aerosmith, and all the great bands of that era were in our repertoire.  We also played some original tunes.  None of them were really fine-tuned or mature sounding, but Lu keeps threatening to revive one of those early songs.

During those formative years, I spent nearly all my waking hours on my two passions, music and martial arts.  I consider myself so lucky to have found my lane(s) in life so early on.  As the saying goes…“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  So true!

Stay tuned for Chapter 2 of “My Rock and Roll Journey” where I share the path that I took in the metaphorical fork in the road, and the story of how Ugly Melon was formed.


My Rock and Roll Journey:  Tony Housh – Seasons After – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey:  Sal Costa – Smashing Satellites – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey:  Joey “Chicago” Walser – Devour The Day – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey:  Adam Troy – Sonic X – Chapter 1

My Rock and Roll Journey:  Shaun Soho – Crash Midnight – Chapter 1


Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown – Week of 9-17-16

Octane Logo

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown for the week of 9-17-16.

The 9-17-16 Big ‘Uns Countdown playlist can also be found on (the HRD YouTube channel), in addition to archived playlists dating back to 2013.  Links to reviews of songs from the countdown are featured at the bottom of the page.

#15 –  “Stuck In Your Head” – I PREVAIL

#14 –  “Dark Daze” – SYLAR

#13 –  “Excuse Me” –  FIRE FROM THE GODS

#12 –  “Naivety” – A DAY TO REMEMBER

#11 –  “Show Me A Leader” – ALTER BRIDGE

#10 –  “My Name Is Human” – HIGHLY SUSPECT

# 9 –   “Stranded” – GOJIRA

# 8 –   “Amnesia” – RED SUN RISING

# 7 –   “Remember We Die” – GEMINI SYNDROME


# 5 –   “Seal The Deal” – VOLBEAT

# 4 –   “Open Your Eyes” – DISTURBED

# 3 –   “I Apologize” – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH

# 2 –   “Hardwired” – METALLICA

# 1 –    “Rotting In Vain” – KORN



2016 Active Rock Radio / Octane Quarterly Report: Q2

2016 Active Rock Radio / Octane Quarterly Report: Q1

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2015

Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015

2015 Mid-Year Recap: HRD Radio Report Active Rock and Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2014

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014

Top 15 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs: January 2014 – June 2014

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013

Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Archives

Sons Of Texas Concert Review

Written by Adam Waldman

On Friday, September 16, 2016, Sons Of Texas took to the stage at The Chance in Poughkeepsie with no fanfare.  If you didn’t know who they were, you would have thought that the guys tuning the instruments were part of the road crew.  For some odd reason, the band wasn’t even announced.  When they were ready, Sons Of Texas just launched into a music assault that, by all rights, should have brought the crowd to an immediate fever pitch.

Having been on the Sons Of Texas bandwagon since hearing “Baptized In The Rio Grande” on Octane when it first came out, I just assumed that others would be familiar with them as well.  However, because radio has inexplicably dropped the ball on Sons Of Texas since their debut single, the boys from McAllen, TX were fighting an uphill battle for crowd enthusiasm for most of the night.  That is an indictment of the audience, NOT the band.

On a late summer night, Sons Of Texas was an up-and-coming opening act in a club that holds around 1000 people.  However, the sound and performance that they delivered was worthy of an arena headliner.  And though hard rock and metal arena shows have become something of a dinosaur these days, if this was 30 years ago, Sons Of Texas would eventually be headlining arenas.  They’re that good!

With a precision live sound and incredible chemistry, you would think that Sons Of Texas is a band that has been playing together for many years.  In reality, however, this is a band of all-stars from a small Texas town on the Rio Grande that has only been together since 2013…a testament to their talent and dedication to be the best that they can be.

Sometimes, a lower energy crowd can bring down even the most veteran acts, but Sons Of Texas never took their foot off of the gas pedal from the opening note to the last.  Bursting with energy, frontman Mark Morales continuously worked the crowd, encouraging them to “make some noise.”  While he never got the full-throated response that he was looking for, you didn’t see even a hint of frustration, the sign of a true professional.

Throughout the evening, Sons Of Texas delivered a sound that was so powerful, that you could feel it coming at you like a freight train.  The dual guitar attack of Jes De Hoyos and Jon Olivarez, combined with bass player Nick Villarreal, was visually reminiscent of classic Judas Priest, albeit with a lot more groove.

With a guitar duo like De Hoyos and Olivarez, you might expect Villarreal to have a difficult time getting noticed, but like Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, you can’t help but fixate on his dynamic playing, which combines the metal elements of Harris with the funkier, slap elements of Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers).  Perhaps he is able to be front and center and still lock in perfectly with the intense drumming of Mike Villarreal because of their brotherly connection.

In a live setting, Sons Of Texas delivers the intensity of bands like Pantera and Hellyeah, the groove of bands like King’s X and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the blistering dual guitars of bands like Megadeth and Lamb Of God.  Morales showed that he can growl with the best of them, but also sing with the hauntingly melodic, southern flavored style of Zakk Wylde.  He was perfectly complemented by the backing vocals of De Hoyos, who knows just when to infuse shredding solos and when to pull back and stay in the pocket.

Even if you didn’t know any of Sons Of Texas’ songs, you couldn’t help but be blown away by their performance.

From “Baptized In The Rio Grande” (the song that turned me on to the band), to “September” (a deep-meaning track that was recently featured on Music Discovery Monday), to “Blameshift” (a vastly underrated single that was featured on HRD Radio Report back in April), Sons Of Texas showed a versatility and professionalism that rivals the most well-established bands in hard rock today.

Although Sons Of Texas is a high-intensity band, they also know how to tap into the more debaucherous side of rock and roll that is synonymous with Buckcherry (the evening’s headliner).  The band showed a more lighthearted side with their two closing songs, “Slam With The Lights On” and “Texas Trim.”  It was during the two closing songs that the band finally got the enthusiastic response from the crowd that was deserved throughout the performance.

As impressive as Sons Of Texas was on stage, equally as impressive was the true gratitude that the band showed to everyone who came to meet with them at the merch table after the show.  This is particularly true of Morales, who seemed to go right from the stage to the merch table (the perk of not having to load out equipment).  Not only did he hug every fan that came up to him and thank them for their support, he also happily took pictures with anyone who requested.  What really stood out though, was the care that Morales took after signing autographs, literally blowing the ink dry for each person to make sure that it didn’t smudge.  Gestures like that will go a long way towards creating lifelong fans.

Don’t wait to hear Sons Of Texas on the radio before going to see them perform live.  Radio is a political game that (often times) doesn’t favor the truly deserving.  Make sure to catch them when they come to your area.  Someday, you’ll look back with pride at having been one of the early adopters of one of the most kickass bands in rock today.

Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 9/15/16


Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 9/15/16

Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).

Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs.   On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.

In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.



 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

AVANTASIA (f. JOE LYNN TURNER) – “The Watchmaker’s Dream” (2013)

Avantasia – a supergroup rock opera – is the brainchild of Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammet, who plays bass with the group (in addition to being the primary songwriter and vocalist).  The first five studio albums featured mainly European power metal guest vocalists.  However, on 2013’s The Mystery Of Time, Joe Lynn Turner appears on a number of tracks, adding an interesting mainstream rock element to the intricate musical composition.  The song also showcases a theatrical side of JLT that might surprise fans of Rainbow, Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen.

Most classic rock fans would think of The Who’s Tommy upon hearing the term “rock opera,” but Avantasia takes the concept to an entirely different level.  “The Watchmaker’s Dream” blends the bombast of Jim Steinman’s writing style with prog-infused power metal, and the theatricality of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The challenge for projects like Avantasia is exposing the music to the masses.  Because there is no natural radio fit, this is best achieved when artists share the music directly with their fans.  Although I am a lifelong fan of JLT, I only discovered this brilliant track when he shared it on Facebook on a recent “flashback Friday” post.

KANSAS – “Play The Game Tonight” (1982)

In early 1982, after parting ways with Steve Walsh due to creative differences in lyrical direction, Kansas chose John Elefante to replace their original vocalist.  Elefante, who landed the gig over the likes of Sammy Hagar and Doug Pinnick (King’s X), took the band in a more Christian rock direction with his lyrics.  Ironically, though the majority 1982’s Vinyl Confessions featured Christian lyrics that appealed to founder Kerry Livgren, “Play The Game Tonight” was not one of those songs.  It ended up being the biggest hit on the album, and the third biggest hit in the band’s history behind “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind.”  Elefante’s time with the band only lasted for two albums – Walsh would return a few years later with a different lineup – but while he was there, he left a big mark with “Play The Game Tonight.”



 ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout

STONE SOUR “Get Inside” (2002)

Metal musicians love side projects.  It allows them to explore, and write music that they normally are not associated with.  In the realm of side projects, Stone Sour made an impressionable mark mainly due to Corey Taylor’s job screaming and growling for his main band, Slipknot.  Stone Sour is a far cry from Slipknot.  The band features a lot more melodies and harmonies.  Despite the difference in styles, Stone Sour has done well over the years with their stripped down modern rock/metal sound.  “Get Inside,” from the band’s self-titled debut album, is probably one of their heavier tunes, although not as heavy as the likes of Slipknot.


DAMAGEPLAN “Breathing New Life” (2004)

Founded by two of the greatest musicians of all-time, Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell Abbott, Damageplan was a powerhouse metal band in 2004.  “Breathing New Life” was probably one of the best songs from their only album, New Found Power.  It was heavy, it was angry, and it showcased Dimebag’s phenomenal guitar playing.  One of the saddest days in metal history took place on December 8, 2004, when Dimebag was murdered on stage during a Damageplan show.  The world lost one of the best guitarists, and kindest, most genuine people in metal that day.  His legacy lives on in his recordings.




CROWN OF GLORY – “Inspiration” (2008)

Swiss melodic metal band Crown of Glory crafted a complex piece of power metal with progressive influences on this song from their 2008 album, A Deep Breath Of Life. Complementing the yearning vocals and staunch guitar riffs are subtle orchestrations, hints of the Middle East, and delicate piano interludes that explode into guitar fury.


LORD – “New Horizons” (2009)

This lamenting power ballad was the closer on Australian band Lord’s 2009 album, Set In Stone.  The band began in 2003 as a side project for singer/guitarist “Lord” Tim Grose.  It gave him an outlet to share some amazing music that he wrote, but had been saving because it was unsuitable for his main band, Dungeon.  When Dungeon broke up a couple years later, LORD became his full-time endeavor.  Pete Lesperance of Harem Scarem contributes a guest guitar solo on this track.




SPLIT HEAVEN – “Iron Witch” (2008)

Split Heaven has a terrific throwback, heavy metal sound that is enhanced by quality production.  “Iron Witch” – from the band’s 2008 release, Psycho Samurai – showcases this style.  The standouts on this track are the excellent drum work of Tommy Roitman, and the terrific guitar work from Armand Ramos and Pedro Zelbohr.


LEIDER – “Dream Of Dragon” (2012)

Killer heavy metal from Mexican band, Leider.  Tremendous vocals from Diego Trejo lead the way on this kickass track from their 2012 album, Seven.  Julio Romo and Japo Lopomontiel drive the relentless, menacing rhythm while, Sergio Trejo and Jhovany Lara complete the track with great wailing guitars.