[Album Review] “Cryptic Writings” – Megadeth

Cryptic Writings - MegadethAlbum Title: Cryptic Writings
Artist: Megadeth
Year: 1997
Running Time: 46m 49s

Track listing: 1 Trust; 2 Almost Honest; 3 Use the Man; 4 Mastermind; 5 The Disintegrators; 6 I’ll Get Even; 7 Sin; 8 A Secret Place; 9 Have Cool Will Travel; 10 She-Wolf; 11 Vortex; 12 Fff

The fall of one of the worlds biggest metal bands has been rather disturbing. Never as popular as rivals Metallica, Megadeth have always managed to keep their head above water despite some barren years. Reviews of their previous two studio albums have been fairly poor and sales have been even worse. However, they are back with an album people are already calling, erm, “Cryptic Writings”.

Thankfully, there are several signs of recovery here as the band seem to have found a niche that sits nicely between the commercial and metal markets. How do you know when Megadeth have got it right though?

Finding tracks where lead singer Dave Mustaine spits out words like ‘holocaust’, ‘encrypted’, ‘heinous’, ‘meltdown’ and ‘anoymous existence’ are always a good start. That would be ‘Mastermind’ then – a riff-tastic rocker featuring Mustaine at his most antagonistic for years.

Next up would be a steroid-enhanced speed-metal effort complete with tales of woe and anarchy. Hmmm, ‘The Distintegrators’ maybe? More great vocals from Mustaine. How about a rhythmic rocker with an irrepresable chorus and Mustaine pointing the finger at everyone? ‘Sin’. And probably the most retro sounding song on the album is ‘Vortex’ which takes another trip to the sinister side of Mustaine’s mind.

In addition to that, there is the excellent harmonica-drenched ‘Have Cool Will Travel’ which is expertly done – not the type of song you would expect from Megadeth, ‘Fff’ [Fight For Freedom] which is the direct descendent of ‘Victory’ from “Youthanasia” and the bizarre ‘Use the Man’ which kicks off with 30 seconds of the sixties pop song by The Searchers, ‘Needles and Pins’. That might not sit well with fans but the track then trudges menacingly into a deadly warning to all addicts; ‘I’ve seen the man use the needle, seen the needle use the man; I’ve seen them crawl from the cradle to the coffin on their knees’; before spiralling to a grand up tempo climax.

The debut single, ‘Trust’, is not the best song ever written but it does mark the return of the long missing Megadeth sound complete with a solo that changes the direction and pace half way through before exploding again for the finale. Arguably the best solo since ‘Holy Wars’

Most of the rest are competently written; ‘Almost Honest’ and ‘I’ll Get Even’ would probably have suited “Youthanasia” fairly well if that is any indication.

This is a very strong record and hopefully Megadeth can come back even stronger again. The majority of the world might not care in the slightest but the fans do and I think most of them will be happy with this.


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