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Unfortunately, Megadeth eventually softened their abrasive, bluesy thrash and molded it into metallic rock on this release. It probably should be thought of as Megadeth's Metallica album, because, overall, this isn't a thrash release, but a heavy metal one. Hell, I'm even hard-pressed to call this album metal, as the majority of it sounds like smoky alternative rock. At least we can all rest assured in the fact that it DOES get worse than this. Risk should be called Megadeth's St. Anger, but it's probably even classier and more metal than Metallica's latest offering. The way I see it--at least they didn't stoop so low as to make a COUNTRY record!!! Yeah, Risk is allegedly techno-pop bullshit and other forms of musical aberrations, but anything on there is better than country.
Now, back to the album at hand---yes, I suppose you could say Megadeth 'sold out' with Cryptic Writings, but I hate using that term, especially when there is some decent riffage to contradict the sell-out. Modern rock bands don't usually solo, at least not with the speed and intensity that Megadeth does, so that gives merit to this release and allows metalheads and Megadeth fans to say "Eh, Cryptic Writings is ok" or "Cryptic Writings is mediocre" instead of "Man, this shit sucks!"
Now, I've noticed that the average rating for this album is 61%, but I'll conjecture that the pure shock that fans and metalheads experienced helped them to give it a lower score. I can rest easy in my assumption that these poor ratings are intelligently supported as well.
What's particularly interesting about Cryptic Writings is that Dave Mustaine seems particularly well-suited to this type of music, a kind that leans heavily toward alternative rock like I've mentioned earlier. Perhaps he fits this niche better. His vocal nuances and the overall sound of this CD is cryptic,even, and makes for a mildly intoxicating listen. Tracks like Trust and Use the Man have inspiring acoustic guitar harmonies and just the way Mustaine sounds is captivating. It's highly comparable to 'Egyptian riffs' in the overall vagueness of the description.
Although Megadeth aren't groove metal, they certainly pulled a Pantera this time around. Why, you ask? Well, because there is one thrash gem that sticks out above the rest. It's no other than The Disintegrators. It's not particularly heavy or abrasive, but it's fast, and will make you say "What the hell?" Keep in mind that Megadeth have never been known for their heaviness in the first place;replacing a thick, crushing guitar sound with a thin, trebly sound. Heh, they're like thrash's Immolation. What they have been known for is their speed, and that's what they do best.
Overall, this album is highly forgettable and boring. One of the songs even has the calypso-tinged sound of Jimmy Buffett. The whole thing just ISN'T what Megadeth is/should be about and I'm ashamed that it was made. Well, I suppose the guitarist may have had weakened arms and wrists and the entire band was generally worn out and decided to take it easy, but I think they should've just taken more time to get themselves together and released something half-interesting and thrashy.
Tool takes all the fucking time in the world to put out new albums. Hell, Aenima came out in 1996 and Lateralus came out in like 2001 or 2002. Why can't more bands be more liberal like that?
This album is good if you're in the mood for something dreamy and light(when something heavy and particularly fast would give you a splitting headache, when you've been working all day, etc.), but most of the time I doubt metalheads will want to listen to this. I don't see why the foreign exchange student that was staying at my house for a week thinks this album and Megadeth's Hidden Treasures are Megadeth's best. How can he not note the tremendous difference between it and say Rust in Peace? One good thing I can say about this release is that there's not a shitty cover song.