Malevolent Creation with Spawn of Posession and Eye of the Enemy @ Billboard the Venue (Melbourne), Jan 6 2010

Although the crowd numbered few, the vicious force of an all-death metal show descended upon Melbourne.

The house was light on punters on a Wednesday night as we descended the staircase at Billboards - it felt downright cavernous when pinch-hitter replacements for local rivetheads Synperium, Eye of the Enemy took the stage. With wily 80s leads akimbo and 90s style groove the "crowd" (I feel silly for calling it one) tapped their toes and banged their heads to tracks such as Epic, lending touches of Nile and Kataklysm with some fluid and impressive lead work. One just had to wonder - who were they, exactly?

Spawn of Possession, the "Norwegian/Swedish/Aussie rock combo" as described by vocalist Peter were a typical ultra-violent, gory and grinding death metal outfit. Rushing the audience with an onslaught of sound, hyperblasts of double kicks from an era that was definitely rooted in the old-school of technically adept metallers Atheist and Necrophagist. Their stage presence was lacking, but their small cult of followers couldn't care less, as long as they had room to play their tunes and bust out their chops.

Commanding the stage, the stalwart New York-born, Florida-raised Malevolent Creation dropped like a bomb onto Billboards, firing up the sparse crowd with brutal force. Growler Bret Hoffman inspired everyone to raise their horns and snap their heads, with almost flawless diction despite the chosen guttural growls of his craft. Cuts such as Manic Demise saw fierce pits open up - if one could call it that - as torrents of guitars swept over the crowd. The early 90s classic Coronation of This Domain pegged the tempo back, forsaking none of the brutality. [Guitarist] Marco Martell swapped his usual guitar for a Flying-V to hammer out Blood Brothers, and one such guest shouted out his appreciation ("You just made my night!", he cried) as Hoffman announced the band were about to play their most famous track of all, Multiple Stab Wounds. They even played rarities like To Die is at Hand, a special track for the Aussie fans that bothered to come out.

I felt a twinge of regret for Malevolent Creation - although they aren't playing the most vibrant and thrilling kind of metal, they did spend almost literally days travelling for only 100 people to show up (and another fellow fan assured us this was double of what came last time.) Nevertheless, the fans and the band shared an intimate bond that thousand-strong hordes of bodies up against barriers could never replicate.