SELF TORTURE's "Dead Center" is the sound of rage, no two ways about it. The style is unequivocally hardcore with a sharp metallic edge that turns otherwise standard hardcore fare (albeit, the "true" kind) into something a tad more engrossing. A very tight and full mix, courtesy of Erkan Tatoglu, that gives the riffs a concrete thickness and the drums a natural, hard-hitting sound helps a lot too. And have I mentioned that this very American-sounding band is from Ankara, Turkey?
On first blush and without paying too much attention, "Dead Center" will remind most of bands like TERROR and HATEBREED, as well as similar acts that play unfiltered metallic hardcore that is as much about feeling as notes played. As a straight hardcore album, "Dead Center" would have been a fine album in its own right, perhaps nothing earth shattering, but a good listen nonetheless. Listening more closely one begins to understand that death metal is an influence as well. It is no coincidence that the band members pictured in the booklet are wearing shirts by IMMOLATION, DYING FETUS, and CANNIBAL CORPSE. You will not hear the influence in the barking vocals of Mehmet Stevenson though; his stern delivery reminds more of Scott Vogel (TERROR) and Jamey Jasta (HATEBREED). It is in the riffs of guitarist Cenker Yilmaz, as well as the arrangement twists, that the death metal influence becomes most apparent, often when the band leaves a FIRST BLOOD style tempo and begins the metallic speed killing in earnest. You'll also hear it in the string-bending bits of "Yesterday's Picture" and the death/thrash hints in the licks of "Balance". The spoken-word section on varied album-closer "Stilldown" is one more demonstration of the band's command of nuance. On the whole, SELF TORTURE mixes up styles quite nicely, even though "Dead Center" is still a hardcore album above all else.
In short, "Dead Center" works as an album of hardcore aggression with songwriting that still has some room for improvement, but still gets the job done. As for the act's origin, it just goes to show that heavy music is an international phenomenon, probably one of the only common loves that transcends religion and politics, drawing people closer together in the process. It's the language of heavy; let's hope more people learn it.