To give local high school musicians the opportunity to rock out and be judged on the performance, Brook Mead, an educator at The Arts Academy at Pueblo County High School, hosted a "battle of the bands" Sunday at Brues Alehouse.

Three groups — Dark Matter, Voltaic and the "Rock Band" class from the Arts Academy — each performed a handful of songs, both original and covers, before the judges and a room full of supporters.

From Pueblo West, the thrash metallers Dark Matter opened the show with a well received set that concluded with a cover of Slayer's iconic "Reign in Blood." In the same style of music, Voltaic, with musicians from both Centennial and Central high schools, pummeled listeners with an all-original set of intricately constructed music.

As usual, the Arts Academy players were spot on and tuneful, effortlessly running through a set list that included classics like "Cold as Ice," "House of the Rising Sun" and "Johnny B. Goode."

In the end, it was the originality, stage presence and musical proficiency of Voltaic that swayed the judges, with the young headbangers earning a $200 first-place prize for their worthy efforts.