Megadeth - _Cryptic Writings_
by: Drew Snow (
Surprise! It's actually good! After the very disappointing _Youthanasia_, an album full of weak riffs and poor songwriting, I have to admit that I didn't expect much out of _Cryptic Writings_. We all know that once bands change for the worse, there's usually no chance of salvaging another decent album; everyone hopes "yeah, their last album sucked, but for the next one, they're returning to their old style!" While I can't say that the new Megadeth release is a return to the days of such shredding classics as "Hangar 18" and "Take No Prisoners", I can say that it's a refreshing reminder that, yes, aging metallers who had their heyday in the late 80s/early 90s -can- in fact write decent material without falling back on old ideas. Sure, none of these songs are going to blow any long time 'Deth fans out of the water (except maybe "She-Wolf", killer song that is), but pretty much all of them are structurally tight, albeit maybe a tad too predictable and commercially inclined, efforts which are eons better than the majority of the drivel present on _Youthanasia_. On the whole, _CW_ is a bit heavier than _Youthanasia_, and at the same time more experimental, creating a balance between the Megadeth trademarks such as Mary Friedman's classic solos and newer elements like acoustic interludes and a very minor use of keyboard highlights here and there. We even get a treat in the form of the aforementioned track "She-Wolf", a truly bitchin' song using the speedier riffing style from _RiP_ with the aesthetic of the modern material, coming off overall as a song that should've been on _Countdown to Extinction_. Examining what counts, _Cryptic Writings_ can be summed up like this: As expected, it's not a return to the days of old, but thankfully it's also not a _Youthanasia part 2_. And when you compare it to what the "other" M-band out there is putting out these days... no comment is necessary.
(article published 7/14/1997)
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