The album's lead single, "Walk on Water", featuring Beyoncé, was released on November 10, 2017. "Untouchable" was released as a promotional single a week prior to the album's release. Revival was leaked online on December 13, 2017, two days before the album's release date. The album issued several more singles, including "River", featuring Ed Sheeran, "Nowhere Fast", featuring Kehlani, and "Remind Me". A music video for "Framed" was also released on April 3, 2018.
Reception to Revival was mixed, with critics divided over its rock-influenced production on several songs and the heavy use of pop artists for guest appearances. The album debuted at number one in Australia, Canada, Finland, the UK, and the US. In addition, it was the UK Christmas number one album of 2017 and has been certified platinum in the UK. It was followed by Kamikaze (2018), Eminem's tenth studio album, in which he reacts to criticism of Revival.
Eminem first revealed that he was working on an album when he announced the song "Campaign Speech" on his Twitter in October 2016, writing, "Don't worry I'm working on an album! Here's something meanwhile." Rumors about the release date started in late 2016, saying the album would be called Success and would be released sometime in January 2017. A fake tracklist also was leaked at the same time, with Adele, Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Vince Staples, The Weeknd and Mástein Bennett as featured artists. Rumors were sparked again in February and March 2017, when Eminem announced he was headlining three shows in Reading, Glasgow and Leeds. Various news articles said that because he was performing, he would have to release new material to perform, or at least preview, at the festivals.
On October 25, 2017, Paul Rosenberg posted a photo to Instagram of Yelawolf's Trial by Fire. In the background of the photo, there is a billboard ad promoting a drug called "Revival". Suspicion was aroused when fans noticed that the 'E' in "Revival" was reversed, similar to Eminem's previous logos. Visiting the website listed on the billboard ad revealed several clues. On the website, a promotional video about Revival makes references to Eminem's song "Lose Yourself". The website also references "Sing for the Moment", "Brain Damage", "Fack", "Role Model", and "Any Man". According to the website, "Revival" treats "Atrox Rithimus", a nonexistent medical condition. One translation of Atrox Rithimus, from Latin, is 'terrible rhyme'. The website is also registered to one of Eminem's labels, Interscope Records. When the phone number for "Revival" is called, it plays the background music of Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor", which Eminem features on. These details led fans to believe Eminem's new album will be called Revival. This would follow suit with the names of two of his last three solo albums, Relapse and Recovery.
The album release date was teased multiple times. On November 28, 2017, the release date of the album was announced to be December 15 via both Dr. Dre's and Eminem's social media accounts, while also revealing the fake drug campaign of the record. On December 5, Eminem shared a complete list of all the tracks featuring on his album via his Instagram account. The list features a total of 19 tracks, including an interlude track to Revival, featuring artists such as Phresher, Ed Sheeran, Skylar Grey, Alicia Keys, X Ambassadors, Pink and Kehlani.
On December 7, 2017, the album cover was revealed and projected onto a Detroit building. That night, the song "Untouchable" was released and a pre-order was set up on iTunes.Billboard's Tatiana Cirisano listed the cover as one of the worst of 2017, dubbing it "provocative but undeniably cringeworthy".
On November 8, 2017, Eminem tweeted a picture of a doctor's prescription note with the words "Walk on Water" and "Take as needed" written on it. Additionally, the doctor's note was labeled with the logo for Revival. This caused speculation that the first single would be titled "Walk on Water". On November 9, Paul Rosenberg shared a video on Instagram linking the drug "Revival" with "Walk on Water" and confirming the song, which was subsequently released the next day. An audio video was uploaded to Eminem's YouTube channel. As of December 16, 2017, the video had nearly 50 million views and over 1.1 million likes. On December 23, 2017, the music video for the song was released exclusively on Apple Music and Eminem's official Vevo channel. "Walk on Water" debuted at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the 57th entry for both artists on the chart.
"River", featuring Ed Sheeran, was released as a second single of the album. The song was released to radio on January 5, 2018, and was released a single on February 7. An audio video was uploaded to Eminem's YouTube channel on December 14, 2017. As of January 15, 2018, the video has over 60 million views and 1 million likes. On February 14, 2018, the music video for the song was released on Eminem's official Vevo channel. Commercially, it has reached number one in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden as well as the top 10 in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, and Switzerland, and the top 20 in Belgium and the United States.
The last three songs, "In Your Head", "Castle", and "Arose" deal with the rapper's personal life. The first of these, sampling The Cranberries' "Zombie", expresses regret regarding some of his early lyrics related to his Slim Shady persona. "Castle" is structured as a series of letters to his daughter, Hailie Mathers, climaxing in a series of events in 2007 which led to him overdosing, also expressing a struggle with fame which made him consider quitting rap. Continuing the theme, in "Arose", Eminem pens thoughts to his family from the perspective of his near-death experience. Finding his strength to continue living, he rewinds to the near the end of the previous track, where he considers quitting the industry, then continues in a new direction to his sobriety and the success of his more recent work, with high hopes for the current album.
Upon release, Revival generally polarized music critics, as many were divided over its perceived lack of focus, lyrics, heavy sampling of rock music in the production, and the abundance of pop artists for guest appearances. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 50, based on 24 reviews, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.
Don Needham of The Guardian criticized the album's production and focus, stating that "If Eminem thinks his verbal box of tricks can overcome the weakness of any backing track, his recent albums get demonstrated otherwise." In a positive review, Andy Gill of The Independent complimented the album's lyrical themes: "But ultimately, it's all about Eminem himself, and nowhere more dynamically than in the berserk self-assessment "Offended", where he asserts, amongst other things, that if the time he spent writing were taken into account, he'd be a minimum-wage slave – a faintly ludicrous claim, but immediately backed up by a bravura extended burst of rapid-rap babble that both explains and exemplifies his skills, and leaves one wondering not just how long it took to write, but how on earth he manages to pronounce such a polysyllabic torrent so perfectly."Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph stated that Revival "represents Eminem on top form, which is to say unstoppable, unbeatable yet often indefensible."
The Irish Times concluded that Revival is "mildly more admirable than previous outings but no more enjoyable. A chance to bust out of the slump has passed Eminem by. It just might never happen for him." In a mixed review, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times remarked that while the album is "probably the best of his recent albums", he criticized Eminem's apparent lack of awareness to the evolution of hip hop's sound in general, arguing that he is too "beholden to his own aesthetic." In a negative review, Consequence of Sound gave the album an "F" rating, calling the album "ugly, arthritic, and pleasureless" and "a disaster".
Comparing Revival to Eminem's previous bodies of work, Matthew Ismael Ruiz of Pitchfork stated that "Musically, Revival is no different, chock full of piano ballads and pop-star features that echo the most cynically commercial corners of his catalog. The shock value comes not from the album's overwhelmingly bland hooks or cringe-worthy humor (of which there is plenty), but from the moments where his growth as a human is most apparent", concluding that "Revival is another late-career album that does little for his legacy." Writing for Vice, Robert Christgau found the album "much cleverer than lemmings claim, bluntly and intelligently political too, but so received in its cartoon misogyny and pop grandeur you know he felt irrelevance bearing down even before #MeToo killed this album on the vine". He singled out "Untouchable", "Chloraseptic", and "Like Home" as highlights.
Trent Clark from HipHopDX said that "Eminem's dedication to wrecking mics like Robert Mueller can never be questioned but the production choices still remain an enigma. When he doesn't bath in lamely visible rock samples like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" or The Cranberries' "Zombie" (on "Remind Me" or "In Your Head" respectively), he's mostly square pegging his intensified lyrics on mechanical slabs of assembly line pop hybrids." He singled out "Framed" and "Castle" as highlights:
it's largely the retreads of past glory where he hits his stride the hardest. On the hypnotically-produced "Framed," Marshall dons the hockey mask for old times sake and pulls up off homicidal fantasies that for better or worse, feature the album's most in-pocket rhyme moment. And when he plunges into his drug-altered psyche to speak on his greatest love — his daughter Haile Jade — the ever-reliable DJ Khalil steps up to the plate on "Castle" with a darkened soundbed of macabre guitars and deathly drum marches that feature the album's most vintage Eminem moment.
Mitch Findlay from HotNewHipHop wrote: "Revival is, by far, Eminem's most pop-friendly album to date. While previous albums merely flirted with the sound, Revival has bought a ring and proposed to it. Therefore, if you're somebody who finds no pleasure in the production of 'pop-rap,' you'll find no solace here." He singled out "Framed," "Castle" and "Arose" as highlights, with the latter two being "among Revival's strongest tracks. Conceptually and lyrically, the closing pair find Eminem in excellent form, and longtime fans will no doubt cite these two as album highlights."
Revival is Eminem's eighth consecutive album to top the US Billboard 200, debuting with 267,000 album-equivalent units, 197,000 being traditional album sales. As a result, Eminem became the first musical act to get eight entries in a row debut at its summit.
Revival entered atop the UK Albums Chart with 132,000 album-equivalent units, becoming the year's second largest opening behind Ed Sheeran's ÷ and giving the rapper his eighth consecutive number-one album. As of October 2018, it sold 321,000 album-equivalent units in the UK.
It additionally arrived at number one in Australia, becoming his ninth entry to top the ARIA Albums Chart. The album then fell behind ÷ the following week.
In 2018, Revival was ranked as the 32nd most popular album of the year on the Billboard 200.
* Sales figures based on certification alone. ‡ Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.
Eminem said of the reaction to Revival: "I think there's things to be taken away from this album and the reaction to it. Were there too many songs? Were there too many features? There were certain songs like 'Tragic Endings' and 'Need Me' where I felt like lyrically they would give the listener a second to breathe. I spend a lot of time writing shit that I think nobody ever gets." Later he said: "When the Revival tracklist came down the pipe, it was like overwhelmingly, 'This shit is going to be trash.' Nobody really wanted to be wrong about it. I'm not saying everybody, but a lot of people had already formed their opinion." He also stated that he is proud of the album, saying: "I'm good with Revival. Fuck it. Because I couldn't have made this album [Kamikaze] without it."
On the Kamikaze opener, "The Ringer", Eminem criticizes detractors of Revival[c] but apologizes for alienating fans who supported Trump while maintaining that he believes Trump is an "evil serpent" [d] and says that he was questioned by the U.S. Secret Service for his seemingly threatening lyrics against the president. This led BuzzFeed to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Secret Service to find out if the claim was true. In October 2019, the agency revealed to BuzzFeed that, in response to an email from a TMZ employee pressing the agency to investigate Eminem for his "threatening lyrics" about Donald and Ivanka Trump, they had conducted a background check and arranged an interview, in which the interviewers read the verse out loud to Eminem—and he rapped along. The agency subsequently decided against referring the case to a federal prosecutor.
Revival is widely considered Eminem's worst and most polarizing album by fans and critics. The CD case for Revival appears in the music videos for two songs from Kamikaze: "Fall" and "Venom".
^As of August 20, 2018, the video had over 47 million views and over 1.2 million likes.
^ "... wish I would have spit on it before I went to shake his hand at the event."
^"Maybe the vocals should have been Auto-Tuned; and you would have bought it. But sayin' I no longer got it; 'cause you missed the line and never caught it; cause it went over your head, because you're too stupid to get it ..."
^"If I could go back, I'd at least reword it; and say I empathize with the people this evil serpent sold the dream to that he's deserted."