Friday, May 11, 2018

Megadeth / Cryptic Writings. 1997. 4/5

Some fans had issues with the Youthanasia album because of its divergence from what many saw as the quintessential Megadeth sound. That intensified with the release of Cryptic Writings which takes even more liberties than the previous two albums. The question asked at the time was could Megadeth fans move with the way the band was heading?

Unlike the previous album my initial memories of this album were all good. I got drawn in by the opening two tracks in particular, “Trust” and “Almost Honest”. I like the moody opening of “Trust” and the build into the heart of the song. I still think the break in the middle of the song, which had become a bit of a Mustaine thing to do, was probably beyond its lifetime, but the song itself is still one I like. So too with “Almost Honest”, which again has a varied mood all the way through than what previous Megadeth songs and albums but it’s one I can get on board with.
Whether or not you think there is an issue with the songs through the middle of the album is going to be a matter of personal taste. “Use the Man” has a sludgy pace to start off with before exploding towards the close of the track. “Mastermind” is probably the least exciting of this crop of songs but that’s not to say it is a bad song, it just doesn’t inspire much excitement. “The Disintegrators” is one of the fastest songs on the album, with Nick Menza having to get out second gear for the first time in a while. It’s actually a pretty underrated song, showcasing the dual soloing from Mustaine and Friedman in a speed that better reflects what most people enjoy from Megadeth songs. “I’ll Get Even” is a similar track to “Use the Man”, understated with quieter Mustaine vocals until the chorus comes around, which does tend to repeat too often. “Sin” and “Have Cool, Will Travel” are only on the good side of average
On the other hand “A Secret Place” has always been a favourite. This goes the same for “She-Wolf”, though it was in a roundabout fashion for me. I always felt it was an average song until I heard it live on a subsequent tour, where it was one of the stand out songs on the playlist. From that moment on it became one of my favourite Megadeth songs of their later years, and it does feel like a star attraction here.

After an extended period when I played this album constantly for a good four month period and probably had stars in my eyes because of the band that recorded it, It hasn’t been one that I’ve gone back to very often in the years since. In the long run that only means that it isn’t one of my favourite four or five Megadeth albums, and that certainly is true enough. Despite that, and the obvious change in style that this album has compared to previous releases, I still get plenty out of it every time I decide to give it a spin again.

Rating: "Beware the she-wolf and her bite”. 4/5.

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