The first single from Bring Me The Horizon's fourth album, Sempiternal, was debuted on Daniel P. Carter's Rock Show on BBC Radio 1 on January 4, 2013. It was officially released on iTunes on January 14, 2013.
According to vocalist Oli Sykes, the band never intended this to be a single. He explained to Metal Hammer magazine: "We had that Warped Tour show last year and thought it'd be a good song to play and maybe put out for free, to bridge the gap between our last record and this new one, and it's good to play live. But, management said 'This song's too good, you can't put that out for free!' It came out a lot better than we ever anticipated, but I still think it's the 'safest' track on the record."
He added that the band thought having the lead single as track six on Semidiurnal "was a great statement," as "it showed the level of this album. Most bands have the single as the first track on their album."
The song features the line "This is Sempiternal," which was initially misheard by many as "This is Sandpit Turtle." Drummer Matt Nicholls told MTV UK "Someone texted me it and I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever heard, and then went to tell the guys they were all like... 'Yeah we know, everyone's saying it!'"
The song's music video sees the band performing in the middle of a snowstorm. Matt Nicholls told MTV UK: "We filmed it on an island in North Germany. It was 8 in the morning, minus 12 degrees – it was mental conditions."
The song title is taken from the Metal Gear Solid computer game. Bassist Matt Kean explained to Sugarscape: "It's the opening bit with the people like doing the spooky singing, that's a melody from the game a lot."
The song's "We're going nowhere" refrain has become a focal point of the band's gigs. Sykes told Kerrang!: "It was actually something that I researched and studied when I was learning to sing. I wanted to figure out what makes a popular song popular. The reason bands like Queen are so big is because all the choruses sound like war chants, and they always used the word 'we' in them. I guess it connects you with the crowd and (means) that they just want to sing it."
The Noisecreep site named this as their Best Rock + Metal Song of 2013. They said: "'Shadow Moses' provides some of the most pummeling, unabashed music of the year, made all the more unique by Jordan Fish's subtle synth lines."