It's been awhile since we've had Eminem deliver some scathing bars about society. After 2013's The Marshall Mathers LP 2 showed the world he still had it, he took a break for awhile. He's now back, and with a fresh set of sounds to get by with. Eminem returns with new flair in Revival, his first LP in four years.
The first taste of Eminem's new music came with 'Walk On Water,' a spiritual track that saw Eminem reflecting on the future. Beyoncé adds her smooth voice to the track, singing the cautionary hook: "I walk on water, but I ain't no Jesus / I walk on water, but only when it freezes." Revival begins with this track, revealing Eminem's insecurities about being passed his prime now. The more aggressive ending, however, leads into the darker 'Believe,' the disjointed flow and moody beat leading to some strong hooks. Eminem's classic aggression is not absent on Revival, coming out in many places: 'Untouchable' is angry and political (Eminem has been a vocal opponent of Trump ever since his 'The Storm' freestyle) and the even more challenging 'Like Home,' where Eminem boldly claims "Someone get this Aryan a sheet / Time to bury him, so tell him to prepare to get impeached" before Alicia Keys reassures that all the fighting is for a reason: we're fighting for "the land that raised me / This one for the only place that really knows me / From the cracks in the road that drove me / There's no place like home."
Revival is very introspective, as well. Eminem feels like he's really grown beyond his angsty nature. 'River' featuring Ed Sheeran has a sweet and moody instrumental, while Eminem follows the story of a failing relationship that ends in an abortion. Eminem gets even more reflective as the record comes to a close, 'Castle' being an apology to his daughter for all of the bad he's known for in his past. The same apologetic nature is found in 'In Your Head,' Eminem reflecting on the mistakes he's made in the past in a similar nature to 'Walk On Water.' 'Bad Husband' featuring X Ambassadors reflects on how he could've been a better husband, realizing in retrospect that he could have done so much more. Album closer 'Arose' is a big thank you to everyone who made him who he is, taking a reflective album out on the right note.
Many recoiled when the tracklist for Revival dropped, but rest assured, a lot of Eminem's distinctive sounds from the past in there. While it does feel as if it goes a bit overboard, the old, dirty Eminem comes out in 'Remind Me,' with lots of vulgar and vividly sexual bars dropped, as he also does in 'Heat,' which definitely feels like it goes a bit far. Eminem tries to instigate in 'Offended,' in his classic inflammatory way (he even channels 'Rap God' with some swiftly delivered bars). Recovery vibes can be heard in the more anthemic, uplifting tracks like 'Need Me' with P!nk and 'Nowhere Fast' with Kehlani. The classic duo of Skylar Grey and Em in 'Tragic Endings,' the somber but driven song being the perfect example of what the two do best. There are plenty of tracks where Eminem tries some new flows out, but they don't always work out, an example being 'Framed,' which overall has a pretty strange delivery.
Eminem returns with new flair in Revival, in both terms of flow and subject. There's a lot of reflecting about the past and calls to the state of the future on Revival, making the record important both for Eminem himself and for what's yet to come. It's not perfect and it certainly won't be hailed as his finest work ever, but like any Em release, it has its importance.
Favorite Tracks: River, Castle, Arose, Offended
Least Favorite Track: Framed, Heat, Remind Me
Rating: 78 / 100
Stream or buy Revival on Apple Music: