Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 27
  2. Negative: 4 out of 27
  1. Only one or two of these 15 songs (there are also five skits on the 20-track album) features the dazzling wordplay and unparalleled lyrical flow that made Marshall Mathers one of the biggest names in rap.
  2. While Relapse is a slightly more energised record than the listless "Encore" (despite a Dr Dre production that is, for the most part, tired and dated), it's hardly the comeback many hoped for.
  3. The question remains unanswered, because while it was, undeniably, dull without him, Relapse is less 12 steps than a stumbling one backwards.
  4. The overriding feel is of an album just too jaded, too joyless to truly count as a return to form.
  5. Now he's making albums about recovering from addiction, sounding worn out and uninspired. Dude needs to find a muse or something.
  6. There was a time when he did these things for our id, for our deeply rooted disgust at our own celebrity culture and so at ourselves. But here he’s not standing in for anyone, working himself into a feverish sweat solely for his own satisfaction.
  7. Relapse can be an intermittently thrilling sonic experience until you realize everything sounds like a variation of 'What's the Difference,' 'If I Can't,' or even fucking '30 Something.'
  8. 80
    We know everything about Marshall Mathers...and on Relapse, he leaves Marshall behind. Instead, he embodies characters that we know aren't him, but allow him to re-channel the shock-and-awe rebellion (and skill) that made him great in the first place.
  9. His flow is so good, his wordplay so sharp, it seems churlish to wish that he addressed something than his long-standing obsessions and demons.
  10. By letting Dr. Dre take over the low-end-funk production, and rhyming about things he actually cares about, he comes up with a more painful, honest and vital record than anyone could have expected at this late date, up there with "The Eminem Show" or maybe even better.
  11. If you’re able to tolerate the graphic descriptions of rape, incest, drug abuse, dismemberment and felching (Google it), the reward is an incredible amount of introspection, and top-shelf production by Dr. Dre throughout adds to the replayability factor.
  12. The music tends towards the functional rather than the fantastic: the idea is clearly to focus attention on the star rather than the beats, which seems fair enough, given the moments on Relapse when you're dazzled anew by Eminen, by the acuteness of his imagery and the relentlessness of his panic-stricken flow.
  13. Unfortunately, the goodwill that Eminem builds up with these engrossing and macabre Mathers family confessions are too often torn down by his tedious turns as a goofy court jester.
  14. He infuses Relapse with occasional sparks, but fails to transcend the same tired themes--except, of course, when he becomes Marshall Mathers, the Recovering Drug Addict.
  15. The further Relapse strays from narrative veracity, the more one suspects his fanbase feels he's tapping into his bottomless well for horror-show grandstanding.
  16. 40
    Relapse is really just another overlong summer blockbuster. We sit through it, then go look at pictures of kittens on the Internet, and wait until our souls snap back into place.
  17. I suppose you could say that’s what wrong with Relapse, it is almost completely non-sequitor, with no real lyrical substance until the last half of the album....Relapse sucks.
  18. Thankfully, producer Dr. Dre is there to temper the lyrical bloodletting, laying heavyweight hooks over even the most scabrous tales of family disturbia, and setting 'Bagpipes From Baghdad,' Em's inspired riff on rumored ex Mariah Carey, to snake-charming woodwind squiggles.
  19. Eminem settles for sensationalism straight up, and, worse still, makes you wonder whether he ever truly knew the difference.
  20. 70
    When Relapse ditches Eminem the craaaazzzyyy white rapper, in favor of a maniacal narrator obsessed with graphic rape and violence (subjects much more in line with hip hop’s forgotten horror-core subgenre than anything to do with being a superstar rapper in 2009), Em works wonders with words, expanding the boundaries of the art of rap itself.
  21. Relapse, flooded with more Dr. Dre beats than any other Eminem album, is easily better than "Encore" but nowhere close to his first three albums, because he doesn't try anything particularly different.
  22. Now in his 30s, he doesn't surf the beat so much as box with it, with both brutality and no small degree of grace. That a rapper of this much verbal gymnastic ability is still making Perez Hilton cracks is too bad, but the bigger problem is that Eminem's recipe of gore and gay jokes sounds like the past.
  23. His original army of fans, however, will surely enjoy most of the elements of Relapse and it certainly sets up the sequel nicely--though it might be wise to include a few more crossover hits on the second installment, you know, for everyone else.
  24. Relapse is not only a half-baked rerun; it’s only half of a half-baked rerun.
  25. It's an impressively focused and clever work. But this music is not transcendent. It's still stuck in Marshall Mathers' muck, his fundamental mistrust of pleasure and love.
  26. It’s less a relapse than a rehash, less a comeback album than the kind of album artists need to come back from.
  27. The production is ultra-clean and the lyrics are delivered with a precision that is not to be scoffed at. But mostly what lasts is the self-pity and anger, which is at least enough to warrant our attention.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 632 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 62 out of 632
  1. BrianD
    May 20, 2009
    I love the new CD, I don't know why so many people don't the accent is okay on most songs so yeah.
  2. Jun 23, 2011
    I don't know why this has a lower metascore than "Encore." It's a crying shame because it's easily 10 times better than that pile of **** ThisI don't know why this has a lower metascore than "Encore." It's a crying shame because it's easily 10 times better than that pile of **** This is undoubtably Eminem's return to form. Old Time's Sake, Same Song & Dance and Deja Vu are my favorite songs. Full Review »
  3. Sep 16, 2010
    I was so surprised at how much I ended up enjoying this album. The first two singles he released gave me doubt as to how good the album wouldI was so surprised at how much I ended up enjoying this album. The first two singles he released gave me doubt as to how good the album would be, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got the album simply because I was a fan of Eminem since I was in grade school and it ended up only having two songs that sucked. It is his darkest album by far, but it only makes it more exciting. It is the kind of CD that you turn on while you are in the car with loud speakers simply because of the energy it gives you. If you are looking for some fun rap, then you should probably skip this CD, but if you are a die hard Eminem fan, then you will see that this is his greatest work. Full Review »