Avenged Sevenfold had the summer off after their tour was canceled, as singer M. Shadows was ordered by doctors to rest his vocal cords or risk permanent damage. But they are back in the spotlight thanks to their continued association with the Call of Duty video game franchise, they have just released the song "Mad Hatter" for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. It will be included with the rest of their Call of Duty songs on an EP titled Black Reign, due this Friday, September 21. Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 is due out on October 12.

As M. Shadows was still on vocal rest, we interviewed him via email about the band's involvement with Call of Duty; we also got an update on his condition and the band's plans. Check out the chat below.

As a gamer yourself, what has it meant to be associated with Call Of Duty and having a creative stake musically in what’s presented to players?

For me, these are total highlights. I love games and I especially love Treyarch Games. I play every night so it's a real pleasure to be able to sculpt a small part of the experience for the players.

One of the great thrills must be having an early look at the game. Can you talk about the inspiration for “Mad Hatter,” and what within the game itself inspired the song?

Yeah, I’ve been watching not only the zombies portion of the game grow, but also Blackout, so it's been an amazing experience. When we checked out the theme for Black Ops 4 it blew me away just how far they were taking "Zombies." The characters were inhaling this potion and hallucinating and it reminded me of the "S-Town" podcast and John B. McLemore. I decided to write a story interweaving John's life and what I was playing on the screen.

All of your Call of Duty contributions are being released together as an EP. Which of the songs was your personal favorite? Which is your favorite given how closely it ties in with the game, and which track was the most challenging to create given what you were shown of the gaming footage?

My favorite musical piece is "Mad Hatter." We’re utilizing a lot of cool styles and blending them into a dark brooding stew. "Not Ready to Die" really ties in with the game well lyrically and musically. It's my second favorite song out of the four we’ve done for Call of Duty. The most challenging song of the bunch is "Mad Hatter" because it would’ve been easy to cop out and just do a fast, thrashy, Zombie-shooting song, but we felt the story and game deserved more. To add depth, we needed to dig a little deeper.

As someone who loves video games and someone who’s worked on your own game, what types of gaming experiences draw you in? What do you look for in a game you want to play?

Fun. It just has to be fun. I don't like hand holding. I like games that set you off in a world and make you figure it out yourself. I come from a generation where we couldn't look up solutions on YouTube. I remember sitting in dungeons in Zelda for hours and even days until I figured out what was next. That's what I love about great games.

I know you were looking forward to the summer tour with Prophets of Rage and Three Days Grace this summer, as well as getting a chance to promote The Stage album even further. How are you coming along with your recovery?

I got word today that my [vocal] cords are good to go and that I can start the recovery process. I did two months of no talking or singing and now I need to build it all back up. No damage was done so I'm grateful for that.

Did you have to follow a specific diet or routine to help in your vocal recovery and do you know when you’ll be back and able to play or record again?

I'm always on a diet for singing, also acid reflux pills and lots of water. I could probably start singing very soon but I’m going to take this recovery slow just to make sure everything is as strong as it can be. I'll be ready to roll for the next record.

Prophets of Rage would have provided a different touring pairing for the band. Earlier this year we talked and you had discussed spending some time with them, meeting them and looking forward to what the summer would bring hanging out with those guys. If the schedules line up, would you want to tour or work with them again. Might this still be on the “to-do” list if the opportunity arises?

I would love to. I feel terrible for those guys. I basically ruined everyone’s summer and that's a tough thing to deal with. I'm a fan of what they all do so I would love to do something.

Some bands need time off to move forward with things, but Avenged have always seemed to be able to multitask. Given that you’ve had some unexpected time off this summer, has that given you time to do some things you haven’t really had the time to do, or do you find yourself always entrenched in Avenged Sevenfold? What has your summer been like?

It's a balancing act. I like to golf and go on vacations, but I always bring a guitar and my iPhone for writing down ideas. It's constant but very fun.

Have you started mulling ideas for the next album? Are there things that are inspiring you at the moment, either through reading, research or analysis of everyday life?

Oh yeah. Inspired every day. There’s a lot of good music out there in so many different genres. I love it all. We’ll get started soon but as our fans know, it takes us a while to write records. Hopefully it doesn't take too long. For now, we have the Black Reign EP and “Mad Hatter” and we’re excited about that.

You can hear "Mad Hatter" below and if you're enjoying the song, you can pick it up via the platform of your choosing at this location. You can also pre-save your place to hear the full 'Black Reign' EP via Spotify right here.

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