Eyes of the Betrayer
The measure by which fans gauge the weight of heavy music — call it the lead standard — has fluctuated frequently over the past three decades. Black Sabbath’s profoundly gloomy blues, Judas Priest’s piercing guitar tones, Metallica’s punk-informed thrash and Sick of It All’s bludgeoning breakdowns all unquestionably qualify as precious metals, whereas flimsy-riffed rap-rock acts might be aluminum at best. Eyes of the Betrayer is solid steel, from its rabid-growl vocals to its treadmill-set-to-murder pace. It varies its assault with such time-honored methods as the crystalline classical-guitar coda and the surprising straightforward-singing outburst. In addition to these perfectly timed change-ups, the group shifts speeds without warning, which at first can be as jarring as a semi changing lanes without signals. But soon a pattern becomes clear; the songs sprint for about 90 seconds, stomp around in cement shoes for a minute or so, then accelerate again. On “Apostate,” EOTB alters its approach by echoing earlier verses in plodding form, the hardcore equivalent of a slow-motion instant replay. After further review, Recovery stands among the area’s heaviest debut albums.