Key Points:

Canterbury heavy metal band Beneath the Silence have won the 20th annual Smokefree Rockquest.

They beat five other high school bands to win a prize pack which includes $10,000 worth of music gear, recording a single to be played on the Edge radio station and $10,000 in New Zealand On Air funding.

Band members hail from Cashmere, Rangiora and Kaiapoi high schools and singer Brooke Williamson said they had been working hard all year and were ecstatic.

"Words can't describe the feeling. I have so many thoughts."

Event co-founder Glenn Common was pleased to see a metal band leading the way in the national youth music competition.

"It's a great result that a metal band has risen to the top just doing what they do as well as they possibly can. And having a female performing in the national winning band is representative of what is happening across the country this year."

Second place went to The Slur Tones from Mt Aspiring College in Wanaka, who also picked up the prize for best song for the psychedelic rock track, and third place getters were New York Minutes from Timaru Boys' High School.

The national final took place last night in Christchurch and follows months of regional heats.

Previous high profile Rockquest winners include Kora (1991 - under the name Auntie Beatrice), Atlas Woods (1997 - whose members formed The Black Seeds), Evermore (2000), and Carriage H (2001 - whose members formed Die!Die!Die!).

- NZPA