without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
A lot has been said about 'Cryptic Writings', both positive and negative, but a fact is, that after the balance between Rock and Heavy Metal, that made 'Countdown To Extinction' such an awesome album, went to Rock a bit too much with 1994's 'Youthanasia'. Not that 'Youthanasia' was a bad album, but the fact that it lacks that sharp edge, makes that I hardly listen to that album anymore. On 'Cryptic Writings', Megadeth, and singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine in particular, tried to get back a large share of Metal in the music again, which makes 'Cryptic Writings' an album that has that special balance again. In fact, stylistically the album doesn't even differ that much from 'Countdown To Extinction'. To illustrate how much I like the album, together with 'Rust In Peace' and 'Countdown To Extinction', 'Cryptic Writings' forms my personal Megadeth top 3.
In the typical Megadeth-tradition, the album has a really, really strong opener. 'Trust' is a very good song, probably even one of the best songs that Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman have ever written together. The lyrics are quite sensitive and the music builds up very nicely. Not really a typical opener, but who gives a damn? One of the most catchiest choruses the band has ever made and a short, but very strong guitar solo by Marty Friedman round off this great song.
It took me some time to get used to 'Almost Honest', but once I got used to it, I realised that 'Almost Honest' is actually not a bad song at all! The lyrics are pretty much comparable to those of 'Trust', the subject is the same, and just like 'Trust', 'Almost Honest' has some very nice work on the backing vocals.
Next up is 'Use The Man', which I consider one of Megadeth's best ever songs. The acoustic verses and Dave Mustaine's typical dangerous low voice create a perfect atmosphere and a nice step towards the great chorus of the song. A nice surprise is the heavy guitar riff underneath Marty Friedman's great solo, which is based on the same key as the verses, just played more "Metal". Some nice headbanging to be done here.
'Mastermind' is a hideous song with one of the most ridiculous choruses the band has ever produced. However, the song is followed up by a nice surprise; 'The Disintegrators' is a very nice Heavy Metal song which reminds me of 'Poison Was The Cure' from 'Rust In Peace' a lot. This song just hasn't got that pointless bass intro and rocks right from the beginning.
After that, the album declines a bit. 'I'll Get Even', 'Sin' and 'Have Cool, Will Travel' aren't bad songs and actually have some nice riffs, but lack in conviction. Apart from that 'Sin' and 'Have Cool, Will Travel' sound rather forced in heaviness, just like these songs had to be written in order to make the album sound a little heavier. Nothing to impressive there. However, not this entire part of the album is not too impressive, 'A Secret Place' is a great, slightly experimental song. The intro riff is really powerful and so is the rest of the song. Unlike many other songs on the album, 'A Secret Place' doesn't sound like it's built around its chorus. The song flows quite nicely and the chorus doesn't stand out as much in the way that it doesn't get more accent than the rest of the song. Impressive!
After 'Have Cool, Will Travel', the album suddenly becomes very Metal! 'She-Wolf' is probably as Heavy Metal as it gets and has one of Dave Mustaine's best ever guitar solos and has a chorus that won't let go of your mind for a long, long time. In fact, at the moment I am writing this review, I am in a period that I constantly find myself playing that song over and over again. In the same Heavy Metal tradition, 'Vortex' has this really euphoric Heavy Metal riff starting off the song and throughout the song, you can hear some very nice guitar and vocal melodies. Another pleasant surprise!
Closing off the album in style is 'FFF', of which the intro slightly reminds me of Metallica's 'Motorbreath' (Dave Mustaine might want to kill me because of this comparison) and which is another euphoric Metal track. Those last three tracks have something in common, it is pretty obvious that those songs were written in a time that the band was feeling very comfortable, that can just be heard in the euphoria and the "looseness" in which the songs are played. In any way, 'She-Wolf', 'Vortex' and 'FFF' form a nice and Metal way to close off the album!
Maybe the tension between the band members is the reason that the middle part of this album doesn't sound that consistent. Out of the liner notes in the booklet of the re-release of 'Cryptic Writings', I also understood that the band's manager at the time, a certain Bud Prager, was a pain in the asses of the band. However, I find 'Cryptic Writings' a very good release which should be heard by anyone who is into solid, traditional Metal!