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Review of the Album "Cryptic Writings" by American Heavy Metal Band Megadeth

Updated on December 18, 2020
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Cryptic Writings: Front Album Cover

Why Did Megadeth Go So Far Down Musically?

I wrote earlier how with the release of 1994’s Youthanasia, American heavy metal band Megadeth was becoming mediocre and a shadow of their former selves until late in 2020 the perspective changed. Well with 1997’s Cryptic Writings, the band gets even worse musically. There are only about three very good songs to listen to on this album. And they are Trust, She-Wolf, and FFF (Fight for Freedom). The same band that brought is songs such as Mary Jane, Tornado of Souls, This was My Life, and Countdown to Extinction, has really lost their creativity and excellence that made them as great as a band. Well you might be asking what happened to the greatness of Dave Mustaine? That’s a fair question and I can only say that he must have forgotten how to stick to writing songs that have actual hooks and melody. In my perspective, Cryptic Writings is the weakest album from Megadeth, even getting lower than Risk, an album that many fans feel is the band's worst album.

The Songs Trust, Almost Honest, & Use the Man

The opening song "Trust" is a very good song about a relationship that really fell apart because they both lied and deceived each other. Deception is not a healthy quality to help a relationship last that’s for sure. If Youthanasia was the start of this band’s downward slide, Cryptic Writings made this decline even worse heading into 1999 where they may have dropped to their lowest point. Megadeth would redeem themselves with the song 1,000 Times Goodbye in 2001. "Almost Honest” has a decent bassline in the beginning as the song builds on yet another dysfunctional relationship. My goodness, how many more songs like these are we going to hear? This topic has been overdone and it is getting kind of over saturated. Use the Man has some cheesy oldies-style singing before Dave’s voice kicks in.

Is Cryptic Writings is a Failed Experiment?

It is one thing to experiment with different styles if this experimentation works but in this case, it just does not fit. Within a span of seven years (1990-1997) Megadeth went from one of the elite thrash metal bands to a band that failed and disappointed the majority of their audience. By this point in their career, Megadeth had released what I would say three very good albums, gotten lots of coverage on MTV and Headbanger’s Boll and established themselves as one of the top American heavy metal bands along with Slayer, Testament, and Metallica. But this greatness really dropped. Or did it really? At least that’s what I felt at first when I reviewed this album for the second time.

The Songs Almost Honest & Mastermind

"Almost Honest" is a decent song about a relationship built on dishonesty and misunderstanding. This is a topic that has been really re-hashed and overdone so if Megadeth was going to write another relationship song, they could have done much better. This is not a bad song but they could have done better. "Mastermind" is another cheesy song as Mustaine tries some lower voiced vocals which don’t really work.

The Song Called Trust

Cryptic Writings the Review Part 4

"The Disintegrators" is a very fast song but it does not reach the greatness of Poison was the Cure, or elite songs like Reaction on the Remains album. There are few guitarists that can match the greatness of Jeff Waters especially when it comes to rhythm guitars. The slower song "I’ll Get Even" is about someone that feels that he has been abandoned and thrown to the side of the road. He feels lonely and angry and it is only a matter of time before he gets even with the person that has basically treated him terribly. Some people just cannot even be trusted. The song is just okay. "Vortex" has some atmospheric sound in the beginning before turning into an average metal tune at best.

The Song Called "She-Wolf"

Final Thoughts About Cryptic Writings

I know that I will most likely hear from some people that Metallica was worse as a band at this time. No, they were not because Metallica still was able to write quality songs such as Slither, Carpe Diem Baby, and Bad Seed. "A Secret Place" is about getting into some secret place or location then being unable to get out of it. The politically based song "FFF" is one of the best songs in Megadeth’s career! This one is pretty obvious what the theme is about. Sometimes we are convinced that we have to fight for what is right and address the injustices that exist in our society. The US gives us the freedom to fight for our country and do what is right to get us back on the right track.

The best songs in Cryptic Writings are Trust, She Wolf, and FFF. The good songs are Almost Honest and to a certain degree the song called Sin. However, Cryptic Writings is at best an average album and does not even get as high as a 75. Final score for Cryptic Writings as of August 2018: 68 out of 100 points.

The song called "FFF" (Fight for Freedom)

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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