'Relapse', Eminem's first album in almost five years, is a patchy offering but has enough moments that hark back to former glories to keep the listener interested. In the four years of his extended career hiatus Eminem suffered from an addiction to prescription drugs, which forms the main theme of the album.
Long time collaborator Dr Dre is back on the production duties, and apart from a cameo from 50 Cent, there are no guest verses - this seems fitting on such a personal album.
As ever, Eminem doesn't shy away from controversial subject matters. On the album he raps about child sex abuse, rape and murder in his typically graphic style. However, much of the wrath on display here is directed at himself, rather than past targets such as ex-wife Kim, although he does take another pop at his mother in 'My Mom'.
The album opens with the immediately arresting '3am', a violent account of murder and amnesia with some excellent lines. Weak single 'We Made You' sounds incongruous on this dark album as the rapper takes familiar swipes at celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Britney and Amy Winehouse.
The only self-produced track on the album, 'Beautiful' is a strange and strangely affecting work. The ballad is honest and revealing as Eminem reflects on his career and the direction his life has taken, with the refrain "Don't let them say you ain't beautiful".
Another highlight is the disturbing, commanding 'Stay Wide Awake' in which Eminem inhabits the mind of a serial killer. The stream-of-consciousness approach works again on 'Same Song and Dance', which is equally brooding and disconcerting with a sinister beat.
This is an angry, typically uncompromising piece of work from Eminem, which although it doesn't tread much new ground, is bristling with negative energy and plenty of his acerbic lyrical style.