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3.22 | 68 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1997

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Trust (5:13)
2. Almost Honest (4:04)
3. Use the Man (4:37)
4. Mastermind (3:50)
5. The Disintegrators (2:52)
6. I'll Get Even (4:25)
7. Sin (3:08)
8. A Secret Place (5:31)
9. Have Cool, Will Travel (3:30)
10. She-Wolf (3:38)
11. Vortex (3:40)
12. FFF (2:38)

Total Time: 47:12


- Dave Mustaine / Vocals, Guitar
- Marty Friedman / Guitar
- Dave Ellefson / Bass
- Nick Menza / Drums

About this release

Release date: June 17th, 1997
Label: Capitol Records

Thanks to Time Signature, The Angry Scotsman, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Having outlived the thrash era of the 80's and survived the grunge period of the 90's, it was evident that Megadeth were gradually going for a more radio-friendly sound with each album. While 1994's 'Youthanasia' still maintained a lot of the bands metal elements, 1997's 'Cryptic Writings' is where they really started to delve deep into "hard rock" territory.

Most fans probably scoffed at the thought, notoriously frowning upon any of their heroes for "selling out" to reach a wider audience and make more money. However, while this may not be the same thrash metal band that released such classics as 'Holy Wars', 'Hanger 18' and 'Peace Sells', the material here is still of a high quality, and the top-notch production really gives the band a very clear, vibrant, and contemporary sound. And it still holds up today.

'Cryptic Writings' is notable for being the final release featuring what many consider the "classic" Megadeth line-up, with drummer Nick Menza leaving the band after this album, and guitarist Marty Friedman leaving after the release of its successor, 'Risk'. Still, the members are as cohesive as ever here, and the lack of thrashy, speed metal riffs has given them more space to breathe, with a wider palette of ideas making for more colourful and varied compositions.

I was 12 years-old when I bought this on CD, and at the time it was heaviest thing I'd ever heard. In fact, this was my second Megadeth purchase after 1999's 'Risk', and so both albums have an endearing place in my heart. Hits such as 'Trust', 'Almost Honest', 'Mastermind' and 'A Secret Place' have stayed with me well into adulthood, and for the metal fans who crave for the Megadeth of old, there's songs like 'The Disintegrators', 'She-Wolf', 'Vortex' and 'FFF'.

Overall, 'Cryptic Writings' is a largely underrated album. It has an excellent sound, and consistently strong songs from start to finish, and if you can accept that the days of 80's thrash metal are dead and gone (and metal in general wasn't a hot prospect in 1997 either), then you'll find this to be one of the standout releases in Megadeth's discography.
After the personally disappointing Youthanasia, Megadeth rebound with their seventh studio album, Cryptic Writings. This album sees them correcting some of the mistakes they made on their previous album. The thrash is still gone for the most part, but the song styles show better variety, it is more rhythmically stimulating, and the result is a very accessible album.

“Trust” is one of my all-time favorite Megadeth songs. The intro builds slowly but powerfully as each instrument makes its first appearance. The chorus is very memorable, there’s a nice, delicate instrumental break in the middle.

Two intriguing songs to me on this album are not what I’d expect from Megadeth. “Use The Man” tells a tale about the damages of drug use. Although Megadeth have dabbled in ballads before, they are still something of a rarity for the band. “A Secret Place” is driven by sitar-sounding guitars, and reminds me of something Alice In Chains would do, just not as dark and heavy. Songs such as these show more restraint vocally Dave Mustaine. For lack of a better word, his voice is less whiny than on Youthanasia.

This next pair of highlights on the album represents more of what is expected from Megadeth. “The Disintegrators” is the best hint of thrash metal on a Megadeth album since Countdown To Extinction, and the main riff during the verse is reminiscent of those that can be found on some of the sub-genre’s earliest releases. Another standout track, “She-Wolf”, is something like the “Hangar 18” of the album. Both songs are rather captivating, and contain notable lead breaks. The solo section to close the song was often extended live to great approval by “droogies” worldwide.

There aren’t a whole ton of glaring weaknesses on “Cryptic Writings”, but a good amount of songs I consider to be somewhat middle-of-the-road. “Almost Honest”, “Mastermind”, “Sin”, “Have Cool, Will Travel”, “Vortex”, and the Motorbreath-esque “FFF (Fight For Freedom)” all fit this category.

Overall, Cryptic Writings is a good album by Megadeth, and certainly a good bounce back!

Members reviews

This album is coming off what I considered to be one of Megadeth's stronger albums, Youthanasia. Around time of this release, Dave said Cryptic Writings would contain elements of each of their last few albums. And, he's right: there are some crunching songs here that could fit on earlier 'Deth albums with little problem. The production is top-notch, as Dave's vocals and the instruments come through very nicely. The opener "Trust" (and lead single) starts off with a beautiful symphonic intro that leads into an addicting sing-along chorus, followed by a very nice accoustic section that marks right after the solo is finished. "Almost Honest" is another radio hit, which starts off pretty heavy, but wears off a bit towards the climax. "Use the Man," picks up through midway and has a strong climax. "The Disintegrators" could have fit in between Rust In Peace or Countdown to Extinction, and "I'll Get Even" and "A Secret Place" are both atmospheric, moodier songs. "She-Wolf" is a very stead almost Iced Earth like tune. Album closer "FFF" is a short but sweet blistering track, with Dave sounding very pissed off with what's going on in the world.

Cryptic Writings is a bit incohesive in places, with a lot of songs that seem like they belong on other albums. Small complaint, however: A very mature album from a band that has come a long way since their early beginnings. The diversity in sound should appeal to all fans who enjoyed at least one other Megadeth album.

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