Review Summary: Great album overall, with certain flaws. Worth getting.
Dave Mustaine - Lead vocals, rhytm guitar
Dave Ellefson - Bass guitar, backing vocals
Marty Friedman - Lead guitar
Nick Menza - drums
Cryptic Writings came out in 1997, following its predecessor, Youthanasia
. I long avoided this album, because everyone was telling me how bad it was, and indeed, when I first listened to it, I was pretty much like "meh". Dave Mustaine decided to went a bit more commercial direction, same as he did with Countdown To Extinction
and same as he did then with Risk
. That was disappointing for many Megadeth fans, but Megadeth was gaining commercial success. It is very visible on overall production of the album - it's clean and slick and high budget really shows. Anyway. after several months, I decided to give it another chance and listened to it in detail, song by song.
Cryptic Writings can be divided into three categories. First category are hard rock songs. Then there are heavy metal songs. And also some thrash gems, which are among fastest since Countdown To Extinction
and Rust In Peace
, which is quite suprising.
The album starts off with Trust
, which I think is quite decent, nothing special, but it has a decent riff and second part (the solo and further) is noticeably better. Lead guitar and bass are very well played. Then comes Almost Honest
, which is somehow simillar to previous song, but it has somehow "more positive" mood, and again, very good bass part. Both songs have pretty trivial lyrics about relationships.
They're followed by Use The Man
. Contains acoustic parts and the intro is a 60's song "Needles and Pins" by The Searcher. Dave Mustaine's voice was pushed to the foreground here and the lyrics deal with drug problems.
Things get noticeably better with Mastermind
. It's a bit weird, but it's catchy, vocals are very good, chorus is nice, lead work is great, so is bass, riff is awesome. The lyrics are about future, when people are just mindless machines controlled by one "Mastermind".
The improving tendency continues with The Disintegrators
, which is a thrash gem on the album - it's one of the fastest songs since Rust In Peace
, guitar work is ferocious and Dave Mustaine's vocals are at their best. The song is about gangs riding motorcycles and breaking into houses. I was very pleasantly suprised by this song. It keeps momentum all time and never gets boring.
I'll Get Even
has nice, calm intro and mainly great vocals. Overall, it's just "decent".
Unfortunately, then comes Sin
, which is one of the worse songs here - really mediocre. It's just a simple rock song, very watered down, only part that stands out are the vocals. Remastered version of the album contains a song Evil that's Within
, which is a demo version of Sin which didn't get on the album and it's noticeably improved, overall darker, heavier.
A Secret Place
basically continues the medocrity. and so does Have Cool, Will Travel
, which though has decent harmonica parts.
fortunately saves it and brings in great riffage, evil vocals, great soloing (in live versions, mostly extended) and is among the best songs here. Simillar can be said about Vortex
, which would greatly fit in Countdown To Extinction
closes the album. It's a very punkish song, the name means "Fight For Freedom", which is quite obvious and unoriginal unfortunately. Still, it's a great song and great album closer. Its riff is somehow simillar to Metallica
. On remastered version, there is a song called Bullprick
, which is a demo for FFF
and has much better, hilarious lyrics.
Overall, Cryptic Writings is a essential part of Megadeth discography. It would be even better if the 3 fillers (Sin, A Secret Place, Have Cool, Will Travel
) weren't there, but I guess that happens almost everytime :) Oh well .. the remaining 9 songs are great reason to buy this album.