Lyrically, the song concerns imposed limitations on freedom of speech and freedom of expression in general. "Eye of the Beholder" is notable for its chorus section containing 12/8 time played, not as an ordinary compound quadruple time, but as a syncopated rhythm. The rest of the song is a more conventional 4/4rhythm at a slower tempo than that seen on Metallica's previous three albums.
The song has not been performed live in its entirety since 1989. It has, however, always formed part of the medleys of songs from …And Justice for All often played by the band in concert during the 1990s as an alternative to playing full songs, many of which were seen as too difficult because of the numerous guitar parts. One such "Justice Medley" was featured on its 1993 live album Live Shit: Binge & Purge.