Back with another music nerd-approved Breakdown Episode, Avenged Sevenfold get down to brass tacks concerning the writing and recording process behind "Shepherd of Fire," the introduction track to their 2013 full-length Hail to the King. Singer M. Shadows recalls, "This one we wanted to open up like we were in Hell, so the first thing we were trying to do was create a soundscape that would feel like all the typical things you'd find in Hell like fire, the bells... "
Unhappy with the way their search for that hellish sound went, they took the DIY route and arranged the track themselves. "It's just something you'd hear out of a horror movie," says bassist Johnny Christ on the final track's windy samples and layered tolling bells.
Shadows admits he liked the song, but was also worried fans would think the band was "just trying to make another [2010 album] Nightmare."
The two continue their detailed analysis, including commentary from Christ on how the studio had to be very dark in order for Shadows to pull off the spoken-word segment and maintain a serious vibe. They share a laugh while listening to the isolated clip of the singer whispering "shepherd of fire."
Shadows declares toward the end, "It was a painstakingly simple song to write. It's definitely hearkening back to the old stuff, but it was something that really challenged us as songwriters on this record."