Eminem’s ninth studio album, Revival, made its long-awaited debut last week and, while it certainly made a splash and dominated the headlines, the response it received was largely mixed.
Revival features appearances from the likes of Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Kehlani, and X Ambassadors. But such star power was not enough to shield it from some harsh reviews.
Overall, Eminem’s latest album received “generally favorable” reviews but it wasn’t the banger many expected it to be, leaving some hardcore stans disappointed.
Before scrolling through a selection of the reviews below, listen to Eminem and Beyoncé’s “Walk on Water.”
Andy Gill / Independent
This album is called Revival, after all, and the next track, “Believe”, finds Eminem’s faith in his talent creeping back in. The ticking beat and sinister, John Carpenter-esque piano figure are harbingers of resurgent menace, while the hazy, treated chorus hook sounds like medication flooding his spirit with the confidence that carries the rest of the album.
Neil McCormick / Telegraph
Revival represents Eminem on top form, which is to say unstoppable, unbeatable yet often indefensible. He may be a deeply flawed and reprehensible character but, when it comes to pure unadulterated rap skills, Eminem is still the boss.
Christopher Weingarten / Rolling Stone
Revival is a heavy listen, going deep on ballads with guests like Ed Sheeran and X Ambassadors. But a certain indulgent messiness has always been part of the Eminem experience.
Lyrically, Eminem mainly falls back on old tricks. But what tricks they are: part Big Daddy Kane, part Eddie Van Halen, part Marquis de Sade. He can still be the same booger-flicking shock-rocker, just in a dirty old man’s body.
When Revival’s confessionals work, it’s proof that, when the real Marshal Mathers stands up, he can still pull us into his evocative dramas.
Emily Garstin / Paste Magazine
If there’s one word to describe Revival, and this shouldn’t surprise anyone, it’s volatile. Overall, the album is fairly easy listening, especially songs like “Walk on Water” (the current single featuring Queen Bey) and “Like Home” (featuring Alicia Keys).
Trent Clark / Hiphop DX
While Em’s bullheaded decision to experiment with the flow should be heartily respected, it doesn’t shroud the fact that he’s not charting any new territory, at least topically. But it’s largely the retreads of past glory where he hits stride the hardest.
Jordan Bassett / NME
The album finds a newly woke Marshall Mathers stumble through some clumsy rhymes and lumpen beats, yet on the whole he sounds freshly energised and inspired through its 19 tracks.
Dom Needham / The Guardian
There are tiny twitches of genius on the rapper’s first album in four years, but to get there you have to wade through acres of bad gags, filler and formulaic fury
Riley Wallace / Exclaim
We can say that the real Slim Shady does show up and prove himself on a handful of Revival’s songs, but many of the more ‘noteworthy’ moments are buried under a mountain of contradictions and cringe-worthy attempts at shock value.
Andrew Barker / Variety
Eminem remains one of the most accomplished technical rappers of his generation, but his taste in beats and subjects lets him down mightily. Leaning on charisma-free collaborations, histrionic productions, and nearly half a dozen attempts to rewrite his 2010 hit “Love the Way You Lie,” “Revival” is a messy, ultimately exhausting misfire.
Chase McMullen / The 405
Eminem has made the worst album of his career with Revival. It’s a well-intended, tragically haphazard mess.
Mikael Wood / LA Times
Eminem hits clunker after clunker on “Revival,” his clumsiest record to date. It’s not just the corny jokes and goofy puns, either, although those are plenty bad. The production — by Rick Rubin, Alex Da Kid and others, including Eminem himself — is just as ungainly, with turgid rock guitars and dreary mid-tempo grooves that make this 19-track set feel even longer and more punishing than it is.
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- Main & Featured Image: Dave J Hogan / Getty Images for MTV