Style: Post Punk, Darkwave.
Similar Artists: Last Dance, A Split Second, Siouxsie and The Banshees.
Original Recording Year: Nesak International, 1984.
Sounding like howling witches burning at the stake, the ghoulish shrieks of Xmal Deutschland's 1982 debut single "Incubus Succubus" immediately won the approval of goth rock connoisseurs. The German band wasn't able to maintain its black-clad sound, selling out to pop before the inevitable breakup, but Xmal Deutschland competed with Siouxsie & the Banshees for goth royalty. Xmal Deutschland was formed in Hamburg, Germany, in 1980 by Anja Huwe (vocals), Manuela Rickers (guitar), Rita Simon (bass), Fiona Sangster (keyboards), and Caro May (drums). Originally an all-girl lineup, Xmal Deutschland added a male when Simon was replaced by bassist Wolfgang Ellerbrock.
In November 1982, Xmal Deutschland opened for Cocteau Twins in England, and the group caught the attention of the Twins' label, 4AD Records. The band was signed to the label and released their first LP, Fetisch, a year later. Fetisch hit number three on the U.K. independent charts. Xmal Deutschland headlined a U.K. tour in 1983 and recorded a live session for renowned British DJ John Peel. Percussionist Manuela Zwingman quit the group, and Peter Bellendir became the band's new drummer. The similarly gloomy Tocsin followed in 1984. On 1987's Viva, Xmal Deutschland hit their creative peak, puncturing their doom rock sound with the eerie hooks of "Matador" and "Sickle Moon." However, Xmal Deutschland's Halloween days were over by 1989's Devils. Despite its ominous title, the group cheered up, dropped the German lyrics for English, and lost all of their credibility. They disbanded soon thereafter.
Xmal Deutschland's second full-length album is a creative high point, a Teutonic marriage of Siouxsie & the Banshees' inviting Goth-pop and the majestic sonic spaces of the Cocteau Twins. Less offputtingly bleak than the quartet's earlier records, but without the unfortunate candy coating of the albums that followed, these 11 songs are precariously balanced between neo-psychedelic pop in the traditional 4AD style — the opening "Mondlicht" would not sound out of place on a TMC album — and the more aggressive, artsy sound of their first EPs. The former is clearly winning; "Incubus Succubus II," a much glossier remake of the song that first garnered U.K. attention for the group, features a less tortured (but still German-language) vocal from Anja Huwe over a smooth, throbbing pulse that trades in the spiky scrappiness of the original for a clean, but not antiseptic thrust. The clash of styles actually works quite well, giving Tocsin a palpable creative tension that adds a frisson of intensity to what might otherwise be just another collection of Goth-pop tunes.
Fields Of Haze.