The Game is angry— a fact he is definitely self-aware of. Surely, it has nothing to do with one-time foe Memphis Bleek, who is more than likely laying back and chilling somewhere. Ditto for Young Gunz. And after launching a very public and long-lasting “G-Unot” campaign, The Game can’t be surprised he was not asked to partake in the Gorilla Unit reunion festivities. Possibly the feeling stems from a slight damper on his mainstream light. While not quite Billboard successes like The Documentary or The Doctor’s Advocate, The Game has buttressed his consistent resume in recent years, most recently 2012’s concept album Jesus Piece. While the specifics of the cause are unknown, the symptoms are present—The Game is angry, and the music is all the better for it.

Blood Moon: Year Of The Wolf is mostly pervaded by a sinister ambience that works wonders in The Game’s favor. This time, the focus isn’t religion at all, and he makes that clear on “Bigger Than Me,” an extended, incensed diatribe against the current climate of the hip-hop landscape: “I came in with 'Ye, Jeezy, and boss ass niggas / Yo Freshman cover a whole bunch of soft ass niggas.” (Cover stars Kevin Gates and Troy Ave have since responded). Similarly, tracks like “F.U.N.” are not to be mistaken with celebratory endeavors, as The Game once again reverts to his primary objective, even sampling Eminem’s crazed “rage” flow towards the waning minutes.

The guests on the album are for the most part enveloped into the orbit as well. On “Really,” Yo Gotti and 2 Chainz sound more heated than ever, and even Soulja Boi gets aggro on the chorus. Hip-hop and Auto-Tune is a hit or miss process, but on “Fuck Yo Feelings” Lil Wayne and The Game get the formula right in more ways than one. The Game frequently adopts the flows of his contemporaries as a sign of respect, such as his Eminem impression on “We Ain't,” from The Documentary and more recently his J. Cole impression from “Pray” on Jesus Piece. While not cut from the same insta-classic ilk, the formula works on “Fuck Yo Feelings” for the same reason The Notorious B.I.G. found success on an instrumental outside his comfort zone on “Notorious Thugs.” The Game even temporarily incorporates his little brother Kendrick Lamar’s alto, helium-voiced technique on another standout from the album, “Cellphone.”

While not a concept album in the strict tense, Blood Moon: Year Of The Wolf fails to resonate on the rare occasions where The Game strays from the somber tone to lighten the mood, such as “On One,” “Take That,” and “Married To The Game.” Not only do they steer the album away from a solid state of cohesion, but aside from a disastrous radio campaign with “Or Nah,” these tracks are the textbook definition of filler. They provide troublesome roadblocks to the magnetism of the wolf-spirited trajectory evidenced on real gems like “Trouble On My Mind” and “The Purge.” With a heavy heart and head against the backdrop of soulful, funereal sounding instrumentals, The Game puts together two of the deepest, enduring cuts in his entire catalog.

Freddie Gibbs and Bobby Shmurda join Game on the fiery, gutter anthem “Hit 'Em Hard.” Despite two animated verses from Game and Gibbs, it is Inglewood native and recent Blood Money signee Skeme who steals the show, rhyming: “We do walk-by's and hop outs / Got slidin' doors on that van nigga.” Not to be surpassed by his former protégé, Jeezy helps The Game pull the curtains down on “Black On Black.” Once again The Game pays homage to Jeezy, brazenly doing his best Tha Snowman impression on a triumphant MeKanics’ beat. But Kevin Gates is the most impressive, proving to be a Freshman undaunted by his more established alumni on the last track of Blood Moon. With the year almost in the history books, all writings on the wall point to the tentatively titled The Documentary 2 being a spectacle in 2015.—Kellan Miller