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. ~ Michael Sutton