If, at this spooky time of year, it wasn’t clear enough that the world is already a pretty nightmarish place, There Existed An Addiction To Blood won’t reassure you of reasons otherwise. An album intended to shock and beguile, Clipping’s latest doesn’t utilise the jazzy beats and insightful spoken word passages one normally expects to accompany a politically conscious hip hop record. Instead, their vehicle is horrorcore; the 90s hardcore hip hop subgenre known for its gratuitously violent and macabre imagery.

Clipping can be terrifying at the best of times. One of the most successful of a select group of artists genuinely attempting to incorporate noise collages and industrial beats into hip hop, their last entry, Splendor & Misery, wildly attempted an afro-futurist conceptual piece on a cosmic slave ship. The trio clearly aren’t averse to bold, abstract statements; Daveed Diggs is always on hand to eloquently speed his way through lyrical masterclasses and Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson’s beats are some of the most experimental in popular hip hop. There Existed An Addiction To Blood, despite its werewolf stories, horror movie samples and dense intangibility, is nevertheless Clipping’s most grounded, direct and effective record so far.

This is Clipping at their most intently and clearly political (even for a group already known for their political and social commentary) and crucial to that activism, which is at the foundation of every track, is Diggs’ lyricism. More intricate than ever, Diggs purposefully pinpoints the exact scale, severity and individual impact of the very real oppression of black people in modern America. Horrorcore is rarely employed to invoke such panic-stricken emotion as here. Lines such as “What does sleep bring you but screams at night where you toss?” or “This ain't knife to a gunfight, but more twig to a tank” (both from ‘He Dead’) are but a couple of cuts from the work of a consistently exemplary, tremendously vivid lyricist. Even when Diggs isn’t political, opting for solely for shocking imagery like in ‘Run For Your Life’ or ‘The Show’, it’s still utterly gripping.

Nightmarish imagery is, however, only one element that drives my fascination with Diggs’ lyricism. The other is how astutely he packs his knowledge into those lyrics, revealed within dense wordplay and buried references. The Ganja & Hess-sampling ‘Blood of the Fang’, with its name-drops of Diggs’ Black Panther idols and powerful history of violence against black people in America, is not only effective and emotive but feels important in its message and urgency. As with so many tracks on There Existed An Addiction To Blood, poring over the lyrics and dissecting every inch of what Diggs says proves that there are few rappers so potent and worth reading up on.

Yet, while Diggs alone is an exceptional rapper, the instrumentals of Snipes and Hutson have always been the most obvious component that sets Clipping apart from most experimental hip hop groups. There Existed An Addiction To Blood is slightly toned-down compared to the occasionally-blistering harshness of their earlier work but, for the most part, they perfectly frame Diggs’ flows. Providing moods and beats that are equally disturbing and indebted to horrorcore, Snipes and Hutson dextrously switch between ambient soundscapes and field recordings (the intro and interludes), bouts of noise (‘La Mala Ordina’, ‘Club Down’, ‘Attunement’) and, as on lead single ‘Nothing Is Safe’, trap beats with horrorcore synths. As Diggs has his features, as do the instrumentalists; input from The Rita, Sarah Bernat and Pedestrian Deposit brings even more satisfyingly creepy and unsettling sounds and voices to an album that relishes being both of those.

Though there are obviously dystopian implications in the final track, ‘Piano Burning’, an 18-minute performance of part of Annea Lockwood’s 1968 Piano Transplants suite, I highly doubt most listeners will ever intently find themselves listening to it more than once. It’s not exactly the record’s weak link, just one that most won’t find themselves paying much attention to.

The rest of There Existed An Addiction To Blood, however, makes for a more cohesive and straightforward listen than any of Clipping’s previous releases. The balance between abstract, experimental and coherent is expertly weighted, and the use of horrorcore as a vehicle to pursue new depths of social commentary is inspired. There Existed An Addiction to Blood is shocking, insightful and unlike any other hip hop release this year, and quite possibly Clipping’s most impressive work to date.