Megadeth - Cryptic Writings
Capitol Records Inc.
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
12 songs (46:49)
Release year: 1997
Megadeth, Capitol Records Inc.
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Caught between the outright dreadfulness of Risk and the more than decent Heavy Metal catchiness of Youthanasia, it's something of a surprise when reassessing Cryptic Writings that it's closer to the former than the latter. Best comparable to The World Needs A Hero in the Megadeth canon; although other albums are much better, it's decent enough on its own terms, and is even possible to love for all its quirks, although the fact that the best songs present seem like weak versions of other Megadeth hits certainly holds it back. Much of the album is typical Heavy Metal Megadeth, and first single and opening track Trust is no exception, melodic and based around vocal hooks rather than riff constructions. It's a slow song that grows rather than grips, especially with the almost Progressive centre section; I wouldn't be surprised if most 'Deth fans ignored this album after a single listen.

Looked at as a whole overall, rather than a collection of songs, it's interesting to hear an album from a Thrash legend that features more than great guitar playing without being Thrash at all - I tend to enjoy 90s albums from Thrash bands for what they are, but it's hard not to wish that they'd show off a little more often than they do. Trust alone features a great solo, Marty Friedman still being a part of the band at this time, and although his widdly skills aren't as prevalent as I'd like, there's enough to make the album enjoyable in a hit-and-miss sort of way. Almost Honest follows the formula laid down by Youthanasia pretty well, catchy Heavy Metal with a radio-friendly sheen that's an early highlight despite not standing up to scrutiny that well, especially in comparison to previous hits. Use The Man, on the other hand, meanders pitifully, feeling like an introduction for the first three minutes and finally sort of kicking off in the last minute, before Mastermind snatches your attention with some relatively heavy riffing.

It's hard not to think of Cryptic Writings as some kind of best-of, really, given the juxtaposition of great little stompers like The Disintegrators and the likes of I'll Get Even, a slow plodding experiment which really should have been left out. Overall, the good tracks far outweigh the poor; the hard rockin' Sin and the hard rockin' (with a touch of Middle-Eastern melody) A Secret Place are good, and even harmonica-enhanced crusher Have Cool, Will Travel is enjoyable once you're used to it. It's She-Wolf which really brings the greatness to the table, however, the widdly heaviness outperforming even otherwise decent tracks like Vortex. Ultimately, this isn't the best Megadeth album, but it's not the worst either, and there's a big gap inbetween, enough to make the curious not at all regretful of their interest in an album which often gets ignored. Shame about the artwork, I've seen better on demos.

Killing Songs :
Mastermind, The Disintegrators, Sin, A Secret Place, She-Wolf
Goat quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Megadeth that we have reviewed:
Megadeth - Dystopia reviewed by Goat and quoted 78 / 100
Megadeth - Super Collider reviewed by Goat and quoted 59 / 100
Megadeth - Th1rt3en reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Megadeth - Endgame reviewed by Goat and quoted 91 / 100
Megadeth - Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! (remaster) reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
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