Megadeth - Cryptic Writings

Megadeth – Cryptic Writings

88 / 100

Megadeth’s ‘Cryptic Writings’ remains a directionless jumble as Mustaine crammed too many ‘era’s’ into one album, trying to satisfy fans past and present.

Written by: Dangerzone

ARTIST: Megadeth
ALBUM: Cryptic Writings
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: CDP724383826223
YEAR: 1997
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Dave Mustaine – vocals, guitars * Marty Friedman – guitars * Dave Ellefson – bass * Dave Menza – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Trust * 02 Almost Honest * 03 Use The Man * 04 Mastermind * 05 The Disintegrators * 06 I’ll Get Even * 07 Sin * 08 A Secret Place * 09 Have Cool Will Travel * 10 She-Wolf * 11 Vortex * 12 FFF



Megadeth’s transformation from one of thrash’s most intense outfits into an average melodic metal act was one of the more disappointing turns in the genres history. Influenced by Metallica‘s more mainstream approach on 1991’s ‘Metallica’, Megadeth toned down the speed for 1992’s ‘Countdown To Extinction’ and 1994’s ‘Youthanasia’, prefering to emphasise melody over heaviness.

By 1997 the critics had savaged the band to the point where they attempted to incorporate older elements of their sound into the newer style. It didn’t work, despite containing some radio hits and going well over gold status. Megadeth’s ‘Cryptic Writings’ remains a directionless jumble as Mustaine crammed too many ‘era’s’ into one album, trying to satisfy fans past and present.

The Songs

Mustaine’s tortured genius complexion was old news in 1997, his lack of aggression reflected in the music. On two occasions he attempts two thrashers in the vein of the ‘Rust In Peace’ years, but they are serious missteps. ‘The Disintegrators’ is a weedy burnout, where some rapid fire riffing is employed, but the monstrous wall of noise once present in the 80’s is missing.

‘FFF’ is more disastrous with easily the most amateurish thrash riffs I’ve heard. It sounds like a beginner going through a painfully slow set of chord progressions for the first time, laboured and simple. It’s fast, but it isn’t there. ‘Mastermind’ revisits the ‘Countdown To Extinction’ sound, traditional metal, with Mustaine conjuring up a forced sneering vocal. ‘She Wolf’ and ‘Vortex’ are two further heavier numbers, neither convincing, hurt by a thin production.

The remainder of the album concentrates on ‘newer’ Megadeth, with a modern metal sound, far more direct with melody lines and radio friendly hooks which paid off, particularly in the case of ‘Trust’ and ‘A Secret Place’. Most just miss altogether, ‘I’ll Get Even’, ‘Almost Honest’ and notably the excrutiating ‘Have Cool Will Travel’, anonymous in every regard.

In Summary

This was Megadeth’s last moment in the spotlight, 99’s ‘Risk’ a bomb in every department, and 2001’s ‘The World Needs A Hero’ met by universal silence. Of course Megadeth split early in 2002 due to an injury suffered by Mustaine, but current reports indicate a new lineup is being put together. Mustaine should call it a new name.

‘Cryptic Writings’ was the culmination of Megadeth’s embarrassment, even more than ‘Risk’, because their attempts to reclaim old territory were laughable. They were such a pale imitation of the 1986-90 years that everything they did was ridiculed, this included. There’s no balls, no force, it’s a wimp’s workout. Five years has done nothing to ease the pain of listening to this.

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