On April 10, deathcore vets Emmure will be unleashing Slave To The Game, their fifth album. Recorded with producer Joey Sturgis—who also helmed their 2011 album, Speaker Of The Dead—the album features new drummer Mark Castillo and an “aggressive” tone, according to frontman Frankie Palmeri. AP caught up with Palmeri last Friday in his Queens apartment during the late, late afternoon—just as he was starting his day—and found out more.

So, Is Slave To The Game absolutely done? I know you guys have been talking on Facebook about mixing…

I want to say if 100 percent meant done, then it’s 99.9 percent done. There’s literally a drop of water left to fill in the glass and then it’s complete and everyone can drink up.

What is the .1 percent left for you guys to do?

It’s just little things we’re tweaking with the music internally. Things that if we played the songs 100 times back and forth to people, they probably wouldn’t even realize they’re even getting anything cut.

Now that it’s done—or almost done—what are your thoughts on it?

Honestly, I think this record is just brutal-sounding. It’s got everything I think that people expect from us—and I mean that in the sense that we kind of gave people, or at least for ourselves, more of what we felt the music should be from Emmure. I’m probably making no sense right now. [Laughs.] It’s just a heavy fucking record. It’s another Emmure record that hopefully people get to enjoy with us, because we dig it and that’s what it comes down to. We just make albums we try to enjoy and hopefully people can come along for the ride.

What did Joey Sturgis bring this time around? You’ve worked with him before, so what was the relationship like this time?

Yeah, he’s got kind of amazing input as far as the music goes and his creative mind. He’s a pro at what he does. Honestly, as far as heavy music goes right now—especially with this new age of bands that have come up and become so popular—a lot of their success is owed to Joey Sturgis. He’s not only such a talented engineer and producer, but he’s just a creative person all around that really brings something extra to the table when something is lacking or even perhaps just a new fresh mind to material that maybe bands themselves weren’t aware of. It’s always good to have an outside perspective from someone who is just talented. It paid off for us on our last album and I think this one, as well.

How has having Mark Castillo drum for you guys changed your sound or moved it forward?

He’s got his own amazing twist and talent for taking songs and bringing them to life, so it’s been a pleasure having him in the band as far as writing the record is concerned. He loves to be involved with the actual process of the band, everything from playing our previous material to learning the new stuff to adding to new material. There are no cons to it—it’s just a big, awesome, amazing upgrade for us to have him in the band. You’ll definitely hear some signature Mark stuff on the drums, because this album we actually had him record live drums for the entire album; our previous recording,  Speaker Of The Dead, was actually all programmed. If people are a fan of his work when he was in Between The Buried And Me or in Bury Your Dead, they’ll get to see him shine through on this record as well. We’re pretty lucky, because we’re a big fan of his work.

Lyrically, what was inspiring you lyrically this time around?

I basically have this thing where, anything that I want to say in the songs, there’s always double or triple meaning to everything. I’m never just saying things for the sake of it. I take a lot of inspiration and influence from things I’m passionate about outside of music, whether it be comic books or video games or anything. I kind of adapt those fictional worlds to my actual reality. I always feel like—especially my own perspective and my own life—it’s life imitating art and art imitating life. That’s basically what our lyrics are: Me telling my story through other facets and other personas that people might not necessarily have noticed were a part of me as a person or my way of seeing things. It makes things more fun for me and makes the overall product of the album and music just a little more interesting, because you get to do some research on things that are not just [about] my personal life. Not that I say that’s how things should be—everybody should do their own thing, but I think now that I’ve gotten older and I’ve grown a different kind of attitude about how to talk about myself in the music, it’s just become my way of doing this.

What is your favorite song or lyric you’ve written for the record?

I won’t answer that. [Laughs.] That’s so pretentious. I can’t even think of the word for that—that’s just ridiculous. I don’t have a favorite lyric or song. To answer your question, my favorite lyric would be the one I haven’t written yet, because that’s the stuff I get most excited about, you know, creating. Not so much looking back and being like, “Oh, that was the coolest.” I’m not that kind of person or artist to look back at stuff and be like, “That was my best.” I just kind of take things as what they are and keep moving.

That makes sense. You’re keeping things open—you never want to say, “Oh, I’ve written the best thing” because then there’s no incentive for you to get better in the future.

Yeah, totally.

You said the new record is heavier. In what specific ways?

I don’t know. I can’t tell you. My own perspective of heavy music is so strange, I guess you could say—or at least I think it’s strange—because I hear things maybe other people don’t understand. I’ll hear, like, honestly, a Britney Spears song [or] a Tatu song or some old ‘90s pop song and be like “Dude, that is so heavy.” I’ll hear things in the music that translate, to me, into aggressive things. Basically, what I was getting at is our new record is aggressive. You put it on, groove to it, but it’s got moments and parts in the music and the overall sound that are just overwhelming. It’s just crushing. Sometimes you hear things and it’s like “Oh, man,” and you can’t help but move your body or bang your head or punch somebody. Just stuff like that. I think that’s kind of what Emmure is all about: making music that people can listen to, and it moves them. When I say the record is really heavy or whatever, I mean, it’s aggressive and its just fun to listen to. It’s something you can put on and you can rock it all day and still feel good about it.

I totally get that. There are certain times when I really want to calm down, I’ll have to listen to some really heavy music. And people might think that’s weird.

Yeah, everyone’s different. Everyone’s got their own way of hearing things and looking at things. Honestly, to even dive into a subject of what music is, is just ridiculous. One person’s trash is another man’s treasure, so to speak. So it’s like, what I think might be good music, someone could think it’s terrible and never listen to it in their whole life. And vice versa. Me, personally, I’m pretty open-minded—I listen to everything. There’s not one genre I despise or I’m like, “Oh, turn this off, I can’t listen to this.” I’m pretty much open to whatever and I think that comes with age and I’ve grown [to have] more appreciation for music and art and everything as I’ve gotten older. The new Emmure record is definitely something people can expect from us that is going to be balls-to-the-wall heavy. It’s going to be aggressive and emotional, and all those things we’ve accomplished until now. That’s really what I have to say about it.

People are stoked. You put out the little teaser and people were really, really excited.

Yeah, we pay attention to what people are saying. like comments we get on Facebook and what people are saying online. It’s cool to see negative and positive feedback, because it’s people talking—what more could a band that’s basically six albums deep ask for, is that people keep asking and keep wondering what we’re going to do next. It’s exciting for us to be able to see the reaction of fans old and new. It’s pretty awesome people are into the new little tease we put out. We’re going to keep putting out little snippets here and there until the album comes out so people have something to look forward to. alt