Having fought a prescription pill addiction and mourned his murdered friend Proof, Eminem has chosen new album Relapse as his therapy.

Whereas he played his last work, Encore, largely for laughs, Relapse is an oft-shocking plunder of the depths of his psyche and his imagination. "My Mom" explores the genetic and familial repercussions of drug addiction, while "Insane" concerns sexual abuse. The latter track is as gruesome as his previous shock anthems like "Kim" and "Kill You," if not more so; at one point in the song, Em raps from the perspective of an elementary school child being molested by his stepfather. Elsewhere, he taunts reality show stars ("We Made You") or spits dexterously over the latest batch of hypnotic Dr. Dre earworms ("Bagpipes From Baghdad").

For the most part, though, Relapse allows Eminem to address serious topics in a sincere way. At least, as sincerely as one could expect him to, which is to say in accents ranging from British to Jamaican to Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. But the work feels honest throughout, and though it's sometimes almost too painful to bear, the listener is left glad that Em has once again chosen not to sugarcoat the horrors of his existence.