Ken Pillar has firmly established himself as a reliable performer in the Midwest industrial and rock scene; known primarily as a drummer, he has been a member of such groups as Project .44, W.O.R.M., Apocalypse Theater, Vibralux, and more. With such a musical pedigree, one would think that a solo effort from him would be something to behold… but this is sadly not the case, for while the self-titled debut album under his Penkiller moniker is not lacking in effective songwriting, the instrumental and vocal performances aren’t quite up to par and it is sorely deficient in the areas of production and mix. This is not to say that the album is unlistenable by any stretch; indeed, songs like “Play These Games” with its layered vocals and strikingly melodic chorus coupled with some nicely squelching synth sequences, the entrancing keyboard atmospheres offset by belligerent guitar riffs and disaffected vocals in “Killing Games,” and “Darkest Hour” with its funky bass, break rhythms, and synth with some whimsically guttural vocals demonstrate great potential for Penkiller in the same vein as the great staples of the late ‘90s coldwave scene. The same can be said for a song like “Already Gone” with is fluid synths and shrill guitars, the vocals switching between boisterous growls and melodic howls in a manner almost reminiscent of 16volt, while the atonal layers of acoustic guitar and tribal drumming on “Drifting Home” would make for a great song along the lines of Acumen Nation’s “Cancerine” if only it weren’t assembled in such a unrefined and poorly recorded fashion. Although the liner notes state that after many years in the making, “it was finally time to just put it out there,” this writer must wonder if none of Pillar’s many associates with far greater production chops were available or even approached to help put a more professional veneer on Penkiller. As it stands, it works as a demo, and one can only hope that Pillar will continue to pursue avenues to fully realize this material with as lustrous a production and mix as it deserves.