Album review: clipping. – Visions of Bodies Being Burned

While October is long gone, 2020 has left me craving something from the horror genre with the lack of theatrical releases. My horror movie marathon certainly helped a lot, but aside from The Invisible Man, I didn’t get anything new.

Fortunately, the multi-faceted talent known as Daveed Diggs, and the trio clipping, have come together once again to deliver a horrorcore record of epic proportions. They bring the auditory frights similar to their 2019 record There Existed an Addiction to Blood, but this time, taking it one step further in their extreme experimental and unorthodox sounds.

Visions of Bodies Being Burned is the follow-up, sister album to There Existed an Addiction to Blood. If I were to craft a movie equivalent, the latter is Jordan Peele’s Get Out, while the former is closer to Us.

Sonically, the 2019 album is where the horror lies as clipping. pays homage to John Carpenter’s synth-heavy instrumentation on tracks like “Nothing is Safe”.

Through its lyricism and use of natural field sounds, Visions of Bodies Being Burned pays tribute to a handful of horror franchises, while utilizing horror tropes throughout the record.

The record kicks off with the attention-grabbing “Intro.” The track begins with these heavy, deep 808 drums signaling that something sinister is approaching our subject. Soon after, we get one of a few tributes to Scream as he raps through a small phone speaker, which transitions into this harsh sound of a wildfire.

We then get the groovy “Say the Name” that gives nods and addresses the societal themes from Candyman. The repeating chorus “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned” is a play on summoning spirits or demons, and definitely pressures the listener to make a decision on whether or not they want to continue listening to the record. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s used in the sense of, “are you ready to go through this highly-sinister album?”

You don’t get long to make that decision as the sound of two women using a Ouija board on the “Wytchboard (Interlude)” expose the sinister presence to the listener and the track seamlessly transitions to a heart-thumping door knock at the beginning of “96 Neve Campbell.” A track that, at first, sounds like the killer will be the victor, turns into our strong female protagonist overcoming and ultimately defeating the killer. It’s another tribute to Sidney Prescott and the Scream franchise. We also get an introduction to Inglewood, CA duo Cam & China as they kill it in the back half of the song.

“Something Underneath” begins a stretch of noise and industrial instrumentals as Diggs raps about cannibals rising from under the ground and killing everything that moves. You can compare the lyricism similarly to Us.

If you aren’t a fan of harsh, distorted instrumentation, then you will not like “Make Them Dead.” Definitely a low point on the record is the distinct switch-ups in sound aren’t as apparent like other tracks.

While probably not intentional, “She Bad” gives off complete The VVitch vibes. It’s about a group of teens heading into the woods and not coming back after being picked off by this witch. I love the contradiction of the title track to our subject as you expect the phrase “She Bad” to reference a beautiful, confident woman. However, our witch in this song is referred to with the following: “They heard she got that spiderweb, that snake eye drippin’. Got that dust skin, the fork tongue lickin’ for the scent.” Probably not the most pleasant sight.

“Pain Everyday” is one of the more complex and thematically-heavy tracks of the year. Over some badass, layered percussion, Diggs signals a call-to-arms for the ghosts of lynched black people to exact revenge and haunt the descendants of their murderers. It’s an incredibly dark track as the end result of the haunting pushes the descendants to commit suicide.

The next track delves into the anxiety and paranoia of a drug kingpin on “Check the Lock.” He doesn’t trust anyone around him and every step he takes feels like it is his last. Here, we get some welcoming synths and a slick bass line on the hook.

The album takes a turn into the glitch side of music with the help of the band known as Ho99o9 on “Looking Like Meat.” While really going out there and being loud and extreme with heavy distortion, I still find it a trip. It’s an absolute banger.

I was also blown away by the instrumentally-complex “Eaten Alive.” It’s a song about gentrification and colonization as Diggs questions why these people would want to turn a swamp into their homeland. It’s compared to a bunch of young, good-looking teens stumbling into this ugly-looking house in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The sounds remind the listener of Leatherface rummaging around the house in search for tools to mutilate his victims.

For personal reasons, “Body for the Pile” is my least favorite track by default. Diggs visualizes the death of three cops and sees them as a waste of life and just another body thrown into the pile of already dead bodies this country sees daily. While I respect the nods to police brutality and empathize with those who have a disdain for how police treat minorities, the song still struck the wrong chord in me.

The album closes with a total switch in sound with a cloud rap banger in “Enlacing.” It’s easily the best cloud rap track I’ve heard as there isn’t much quality from that sub-genre aside from a few Juice WRLD songs. It’s quite a comedic song as well with Diggs going on an acid trip while the world is burning to the ground around him due to these apocalyptic-causing, mythological creatures.

clipping. keeps the trend of ending on an avant-garde track. This time, bringing back all of the previous collaborators back for a rendition of Yoko Ono’s 1953 piece of the same name. It’s the perfect ending to an album that saw so much death, destruction and violence.

As a horror aficionado, this album was pre-packaged perfectly for my enjoyment. It lives up to its scares and provides one of the more unique and fascinating music experiences in recent memory.

Richest Tracks: “Intro”, “Say the Name”, “‘96 Neve Campbell”, “Something Underneath”, “She Bad”, “Pain Everyday”, “Check the Lock”, “Looking Like Meat”, “Eaten Alive”, “Enlacing”

Worst Track: “Body for the Pile”

Rating: 9/10

Listen to the album

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0b1q9se93BEqBl3kiltn33?si=IfJvIJUAQUmM5YV0gJdPag

Apple: https://music.apple.com/us/album/visions-of-bodies-being-burned/1526395070

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