"Mad Hatter"
Single by Avenged Sevenfold
from the EP Black Reign
ReleasedSeptember 17, 2018
RecordedMarch 2018
GenreAlternative metal
LabelWarner Bros.
Producer(s)Joe Barresi
Avenged Sevenfold singles chronology
"Wish You Were Here"
"Mad Hatter"
"Set Me Free"

"Mad Hatter" is a song by Avenged Sevenfold, released as the lead single from the EP Black Reign on September 17, 2018. It was made specifically for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2018), appearing as an easter egg in the game's "IX" Zombies map. It is the first original song by the band since the release of "Dose", which was a bonus track from The Stage in 2016.[1]


With the band having a strong connection with Treyarch, having previously worked on Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Call of Duty: Black Ops III, they were once again asked to make a song for their 2018 title Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The band included a sneak peek of the song in their European Tour.

Synyster Gates expressed his excitement of the new song, stating: "We're just about in a state of pure bliss.... We're damn close to getting to exactly where we want to be".[2] M Shadows also commented saying: "The EP is the start of a new era. I'm not sure what that holds for us yet, but we are excited…"[3]

Johnny Christ chimed in: "It's a fun song — it's a little bit of a departure from I think what our fans would expect, but I guess that also makes sense because they expect crazy from us now."[4]

Recording and musical style

The song was recorded in March 2018 in Los Angeles and produced once again by Joe Barresi, before Shadows formed nodes on his vocal chords and couldn't sing for at least a few months.

With Shadows being an avid gamer he was excited about the release being a brand new experience and wanting to write something completely new direction-wise. When asked about the direction of the song he said "We felt that we should take a similar leap with the music and go for something bigger, darker and more cerebral....Watching the initial trailers and looking at production sketches reminded me of the 'S-Town' podcast and its main protagonist, John B. McLemore. Shadows also commented specifically on the lyrics: "I decided that the lyrics would shadow McLemore's life. The result is a thick-grooved song that's dynamic and has a weightiness to it."[5][6]

He also spoke to Kerrang! to discuss the topic further while also revealing they weren't going to release anything until a fan mentioned something via a Twitter Q&A:

"The song is dark and brooding. We wanted to capture a different feeling than a straight-ahead 'zombie killer' track. These songs are good places for us to experiment with our sound. I would put this in the category of 'dark alternative.'"

Shadows further eIaborated on the process: "I did a Twitter takeover where a fan asked me about doing music for Black Ops 3... Treyarch saw it and asked us to participate. I went into the studio and saw what they were working on. We only had a month to get them a finished product, because of our European tour. We wrote what we felt would be a departure for not only us, but Treyarch as well."[7][8][9][10]

A video using "game footage" was released to present the song.[4][11][12][13][14][15][16]


After releasing the song on the September 17, the band changed the mix and re-released a new version after fans noticed the song was off and addressed the issue in a Q&A:

"We saw some complaints about the mix and we totally agree with you! We were pushing the limits in a lot of different ways and once the compression of streaming services and radio got a hold of it the clarity become muddied. I heard it on the radio and was like 'Oh Shit!' The good news is we live in a world were you can quickly fix your mistakes and we have done just that."...[17][18][19]

M Shadows continued: "I'd put this in the "we fucked up" category," "Mixing and mastering happened while we were in Europe and we were getting stuff sent over and all listening on different headphones. Old mix just pushed it a little far but no one had a set of speakers we trusted being on the road and such. By the time we got home we were used to the sound but hearing it on the radio next to other things allowed us to gain some perspective on it".[20]


Personnel adapted from Tidal.[21]


Chart (2018) Peak
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[22] 28
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[23] 9


  1. ^ "NEWS: Avenged Sevenfold share new Call Of Duty song, 'Mad Hatter'! | DEAD PRESS! | It's more than "just music" to us". www.deadpress.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  2. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold low-key tease their 'Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4' song". Alternative Press. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2018-09-28.
  3. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Tease EP Release, New Era and "Mad Hatter"". Radio.com. 2018-09-13. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  4. ^ a b "Here Is Official Preview Of New AVENGED SEVENFOLD Song 'Mad Hatter'". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2018-09-14. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  5. ^ "A7X Streaming New Song 'Mad Hatter,' Share Details of 'Black Ops' EP". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  7. ^ "Official Teaser for New AVENGED SEVENFOLD Song, "Mad Hatter" Posted". Metal Injection. 2018-09-15. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  8. ^ "Hear Avenged Sevenfold's Massive New 'Call of Duty' Song "Mad Hatter"". Revolver. 2018-09-17. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  9. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows on "Mad Hatter", Vocal Recovery and New Album Plans". Consequence of Sound. 2018-09-19. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  10. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows Talks Vocal Recovery: 'I'm Going to Use This As a Lesson'". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  11. ^ "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 shares Avenged Sevenfold-powered Zombies trailer". Gamecrate. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  12. ^ "AVENGED SEVENFOLD: 'Mad Hatter' Video Released". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2018-09-20. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  13. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold's 'Mad Hatter' Soundtracks 'Call of Duty' Clip". Loudwire. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  14. ^ "See Avenged Sevenfold's Violent New 'Black Ops 4' Gameplay Video for "Mad Hatter"". Revolver. 2018-09-20. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  15. ^ "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 action powers Avenged Sevenfold's "Mad Hatter" video". Consequence of Sound. 2018-09-21. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  16. ^ "Watch video for Avenged Sevenfold's Call Of Duty track Mad Hatter". Metal Hammer Magazine. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  17. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Re-Release New Song After Backlash". Loudwire. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  18. ^ "AVENGED SEVENFOLD Releases New Version Of 'Mad Hatter' In Response To Fan Complaints". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2018-09-23. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  19. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold re-release "Mad Hatter" following backlash from fans". Alternative Press. 2018-09-23. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  20. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Re-Release "Mad Hatter" With New Mix, Address Fan Complaints". Revolver. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  21. ^ "Credits / Mad Hatter / Avenged Sevenfold". Tidal. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  22. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  23. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved September 12, 2020.