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XMAL DEUTSCHLAND (Buy CDs by this artist)
Incubus Succubus EP (Ger. Zick Zack) 1982
Fetisch (UK 4AD) 1983
Tocsin (UK 4AD) 1984
The Peel Sessions EP (UK Strange Fruit) 1986
Viva (UK Phonogram) 1987

The dense, throbbing rock of this Hamburg quintet may be too strong for some; on "Incubus Succubus," the title track of a three-song 12-inch, semi-tonic vocalist Anja Huwe bellows and shrieks with dark drama while the band drones and pounds out an unbelievably heavy track behind her, a horror movie cross between Siouxsie and the Banshees and Hawkwind.

The lineup for Fetisch, recorded in England, includes Huwe and three other women (guitar, keyboards, drums) plus a male bassist. With a slightly toned-down attack, Xmal Deutschland's drone loses some of its allure, and a full album's worth of onrushing chaos and numbing noise is more tedious than gripping. The CD adds three songs from a subsequent 12-inch.

Also recorded in London, but this time with mainstream producer Mick Glossop, Tocsin tempers the band's ugly side with economy, variety and restraint. They're still loud as hell and do sound in spots like Hawkwind but, at this point, they're also at a nexus with Joy Division, using bleak noise to convey a variety of moods. With the subtlety and dynamics that were previously lacking, Tocsin reveals Xmal Deutschland to be cogent and invigorating.

The Peel EP was recorded in April 1985 and contains four selections.

[Ira Robbins]