Ashnikko is an unafraid artist: from wielding a hammer while bathed in her f*ckboy ex-boyfriends' blood in the music video for her breakthrough single "STUPID," to the razor-sharp bluntness of her playground taunts of men's sexual miseducation on "Clitoris! The Musical," to the abjectly grotesque imagery she conjures on anarchistic-minded tracks like "Maggots," "Halloweenie IV: Innards," and "Cheerleader."
The 27-year-old's second album WEEDKILLER releases August 25th, and includes "You Make Me Sick!," a diabolical and mechanical breath of fire; "Worms," an escapist sonnet from a rogue apocalypse-survivor; "Cheerleader," a bloody dissection of American high school culture for girls;
crusted hymn to female sexuality. WEEDKILLER's dystopian setting ravaged of the natural world is resonant of the nightmarish achievements in the autocratic and carceral policing of girls' and women's reproductive systems across America, and the advocacy of similar legislation that has spread across the globe in the fallout of the overruling of Roe v. Wade. In anticipation of the album's August 25th release
and at such a mercurial moment in the possession of reproductive rights, Ashnikko takes on the character of a sexual and fertility goddess stripped of her divinity and chained up as a servant by and to a dystopian patriarchy in "Possession of a Weapon" and its audiovisual representation.
Sonically, "Possession of a Weapon" is a brook in the scorched and rocky terrain of WEEDKILLER's tracklist: choral chants housed in the ancient temples in Egypt and Greece beckon at the song's opening, and coil around Ashnikko's utterances in the verses. Ashnikko's voice is regal and thunderous in execution of her divine character, and but guttural beats as from worship drums in the belly of an ancient temple thrum beneath her words. In the choruses, jewel-like digital sounds shutter, as if sounding like the colliding scales of a giant mythological serpent that the singer has summoned and is encircling her, ready to wreak destruction on the goddess' order. Ashnikko's goddess character speaks on behalf of WEEDKILLER's - and real life's - women and girls, "Eyes in the sky, crying geysers / How dare I have private desires;"
words that face the denouncement of women and girls' autonomy over their bodies in the world of WEEDKILLER, a mirror of the statement disclosed by the successive productions of laws that punish reproductive systems in our world.
She sings, "My sacral chakra heaven's threatened / It's just flesh, it's just flesh / I can be grotesque, move my body like chess," first speaking aloud the ruinous fate of not just her and her cult, but for all female citizens in WEEDKILLER's dystopia, then declaring the humanity of the female body and that her sexual and fertility goddess is capable of transforming into a monstrous form to protect those whom she guards over. In between the first chorus and the second verse, the fibre of the soundscape twitches, infernal rifts rise up, the serpent slows as if gearing up to launch, and the luring vocal runs that swirl from the singer's utterances like rays of her character's power mutate into diabolical voices that haunt. Ashnikko's divine
voice ephemerally twists into a shrill, demoniac form to ask of a patriarchal order, "So you're scared of me now?," the dangerousness of her sexual and fertility goddess threatened in this musical breakdown.
Worshippers of Ashnikko's goddess build a call that is projected far beyond the walls of the temple where they gather, and the serpent commences its steady path around the goddess. Just as an ornate, biblical leitmotif of her divinity erupts in the second verse as an accompaniment to her voice growing incendiary and destructive, foreign clanking and creeping noises mimic the armoured steps of the goddess' captors nearing her temple. Ashnikko's voice grows ferocious over the lyrics, "Say you want my body, let me give it to you / Is that what you want, blood and guts?," that concern certain state legislators and voters' preference of female bodies' physical health suffering over permitting them access to the medical
services that could save their lives. "Possession of a Weapon's" final lyrics tell that the goddess character is weakening and how she longs for a time when she was free, "I feel an ache where my mind was / I try to think but it's no use /I would crawl through broken glass to get home," an analogue to the disempowerment of women and girls' bodily agency in modernity.
The opening shot of "Possession of a Weapon's" music video gives witness to the goddess' fate after the song's story ends: imprisoned in a cage, clothed in torn up scraps, jets of her power (hurled to liberate or to defend herself) in states of decay on the insides of the cage, her body is limp, ravaged of its life force. Then the hourglass reverses, returning to the goddess and her cult in their former glory. Ashnikko's goddess and her cult appear almost identical, presenting the divinity of the goddess' worshippers in the mythology of the civilization that is WEEDKILLER's setting, and representing symbolically the power of female sexuality and of the capability to create life. The cult and the goddess evoke the image of Venus
Anadyomene, spiralling and undulating their bodies in lavish, tidal motions, and the horror of a chthonic creature, contorting and thrashing their bodies in a bestial manner, to recreate the otherworldly sensuousness and the wrathful destructiveness of the female body. The seven women mimic the performance of sex and honour their body parts that hold erotic power in demonstration of the belief that the female sex's sexual autonomy and sexuality should be celebrated. The final motions of the ritualistic dance performed by the sexual and fertility cult and Ashnikko's goddess to honour one another imitate the presence of a phallus in between their legs, a statement on how femininity and masculinity are matched in
power and should be met with the same veneration - a belief that stokes fear in the patriarchal order governing WEEDKILLER's lands and its real-world inspiration.