Fiories in Wooster, Ohio, has a reputation for being a small venue with huge venue sound. This rumor proved to be 100 percent accurate as High Vol Fest brought the rock and metal to the Buckeye State. This little spot may just have the best sound system (complete with a cutting-edge tablet sound crew who can roam all over to adjust sound optimally) anywhere in the Midwest.

L.A. Knights start the insanity

Local heroes L.A. Knights (Lower Akron) opened the show. They were very glam metal sounding, but with a punch-over image. They ran this style of metal with only one lead player, so that meant that there was no guitar in the back during solo work and accuracy was, therefore, a must.

Thankfully, the playing was tight, even during the cover of Poison's "Talk Dirty To Me," where the axemaster used an overhand tapping style to play it, as he did to later songs of their own.

"We don't normally do covers, but were asked to do a few" mentioned their lead vocalist Dan Fanz. Rather, as he said from the stage, some of their original music was about "boning whores," thus playing the visage of the party-hearty genre nicely. The highlight of the show may have been backing singer "Crazy Carrie" as she not only sang Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," but rivaled the original in scope! Her voiced blended nicely with Fanz' and geared everyone up for the closer soon after, "One More Round." Hopefully, this band uses more of her in the future.

"We've been together for seven years but some members just joined," stated Fanz. When he mentioned his other more "Rammstein-sounding band, Broken X," this story's writer and the singer recalled having played a show together at Akron's Empire with the progressive industrial band, Passing Time.

What a small world.

Babylon Shakes and Lola Montez add to the diversity

While Billy Morris, formally of Warrant, Tuff, and others on the bill had a sound that hearkened back to the 80's radio metal, there was diversity on this bill. Babylon Shakes sounded more like a cross between the Black Crowes and Faster Pussycat than Ratt. Hailing from Virginia, they were quickly embraced by virtually everyone in attendance.

The bassist has managed to capture a tone that pulls it out from the sound in a way that really made them a treat to listen to. Their high-energy drummer it not only quite accurate, but is seen often flipping, bouncing, and even dropping sticks. Somehow, he rarely misses a beat and his antics are fun to watch. The Babylon Shakes quote of the night had to be, "....just a bad apple in Candyland."

Well said.

The biggest treat of the evening was how refreshing the following act, Lola Montez sounded. Inga Rudin, the band's vocalist, is so pretty that it takes a second to focus on what is happening, to be quite honest. However, this is not a band that relies on this fact, as the guitarist, Blake Scopino, for this Nashville-based band showed with a sound that was original in much the same way that Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello is.

Like Morello, his chops were not only on point all set long, but his breaks were not easy to play and highly technical in some places. Though not a glam band, their showmanship was not lacking, with Rudin even venturing into the crowd, dancing erotically on tables, and high-fiving the crowd while on a wireless mic.

Their fill-in bassist, Sebastian Baltes, is the son of Peter Baltes, bassist for metal pioneers, Accept. This explains how he learned such complicated parts in less than a week! "He [his dad] has been doing it since the 70's," Baltes said proudly of his father. Andy Sneap, now of Judas Priest, produced Accept's latest offering as well as others, and he voiced his praise for Sneap's fortune during our interview.

"That is right up his alley. We were all so very happy for him when we heard that he got the gig in Priest.

As for the Rudin, her voice is reminiscent of Janet Napolitano (Concrete Blonde), Jefferson Airplane (who they cover with an almost fusion funk bass line via "White Rabbit," their closer) or the under-rated Motels. Songs like "Monster" were powerful, intricate, and delivered concisely. This track began a bit like Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell" and only went crazier from there.

Red Reign at the halfway point

Red Reign has a very loyal cult following and they were out full force in Wooster. This was pure, classic sounding hard rock at it's best. From the opener (which share the band's name) to the story of failed love in the song "Toxic," this Richmond-based band was there to rock.

Drummer Sammy Lee and another member of the band had been a band called "Seth" and they have a track called "Demons" that local supporters, The Classic Metal Show, enjoy. The song was played and the tricky solo work was flawless.

Next up was Tuff, perhaps most famous for "being behind only Guns N' Roses and Metallica" in 1991 on Dial MTV, back when the station still mattered. Singer Stevie Rachelle joked about this truth before playing the band's biggest hit so far, "I Hate Kissing You Goodbye." He even talked about wearing a g-string and being lubed up for teen magazines back in the day.

While the past may have been fun, bassist Todd "Chase" Chaisson now appears with a much more punk rock looking mohawk and the focus is on the tunes more than the look.

"Don't Look At Me That Way" was played with the founder looking and sounding great, and the band is much heavier live than on their disks. Billy Morris filled in on guitar his mastery showed on each relentless break.

"If you like guitar trades, just wait for what I'm doing later," Morris promised when complimented on his stunning work with this band in that department.

EMN and Billy Morris close the show

One of the single most under-rated bands of early 1990's could be said to be Every Mother's Nightmare. With a southern metal sound, every bit as solid and gritty as Tesla and band's similar, many people had forgotten EMN. If so, they gave everyone something solid to remember as they returned to performing once again with a vengeance on this night.

Their duo guitar work on songs like "Walls Come Down" was nothing short of dirty groove mastery at its finest. During a sons asking for a "witness" to "testify," this band showed that they have a lot to offer, and it sounded fresh. While the early 90's may have been a while ago, the future is where this band is likely to shine the brightest.

"We really like to come out and show everyone a good time, show people how we do it redneck style," joked Rick Ruhl, singer of EMN in his distinctive southern drawl. Contrary to his jesting, the musicianship of this outfit was top notch. He, like all of the bands, took the time to talk to every fan who wanted to say hello to them. "That is what we are all about," Ruhl added.

Billy Morris And The Sunset Strip closed out the night. The strangest part is that Morris has three guitar players (counting himself) live, and they all take crazy fast solos at different times. While "Cherry Pie," Heaven," "The Down Boys," and "Uncle Tom's Cabin" were played, Morris had a lot more to celebrate than the Warrant years.

His band's new CD, "Holding All The Aces," three years in the making, had come out on this night. Songs like "Party Like The Weekend Never Ends" were delivered with a more mainstream pop-metal force while songs like "Work All Night, Sleep All Day" spoke to the lives of many in the crowd with much more power.

"I know your face," said Morris to this story's author.

Alas, Passing Time had played his former club, The Hi-Fi Club in the Cleveland/Lakewood area. "Nice to see you."

When asked how things were going, Morris said, "Wonderfully. High Vol Music is really making something great happen and it has taken a lot of work."

Thankfully, that work paid off. When the showed ended, almost everyone was happy to hear that this is now to be a yearly event. Who said that metal and hard rock are dead?