Cryptic Writings is the seventh studio album by heavy metal band Megadeth, released in June 1997, with a remixed and remastered version released in 2004. The album debuted at #10 on Billboard Top 200. This is the last Megadeth studio album to feature drummer Nick Menza.
Videos were made for the songs "Trust", "Almost Honest", and "A Secret Place".
"Use the Man" includes samples from the song "Needles and Pins" (which was the original name for the album) by The Searchers, although this was removed on the remaster.
Cryptic Writings is a continuation of Megadeth's 1990s transition to a mid-tempo, melodic hard rock style. Some songs, however, recall the band's 1980s thrash metal era, such as "The Disintegrators", "She-Wolf", "Vortex", and "FFF". This album is similar in style to Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia; it is at present the last Megadeth album to go platinum.
The first 500,000 copies of Cryptic Writings in the U.S. were released with silver background album cover. These releases also included a Vic Rattlehead collectable card which promoted "The Cryptic Writings Of Megadeth" 4- issue run by CHAOS! comics. The latter U.S. pressings features the same artwork with black background album cover. The black background album cover is also featured in the remasters.
Primary lyricist Dave Mustaine explores deceit in personal relationships in "Trust" and "Almost Honest," drug use ("Use the Man") and school violence ("Have Cool, Will Travel"). "The Disintegrators" and "FFF (Fight for Freedom)" herald revolution and champion rebellion. "She-Wolf" and "Vortex" evoke the dark fantasy and occult themes of older songs such as "Five Magics", "Elysian Fields", and "Bad Omen".
The band utlilized a widening range of instrumentation compared to the previous albums. For example, "A Secret Place" features a sitar, while other songs are augmented by prominent acoustic guitar, strings ("Trust", "Use the Man") and harmonica ("Have Cool, Will Travel").
Megadeth changed to ESP Management after releasing Youthanasia. According to the liner notes of the remastered version of Cryptic Writings, Dave Mustaine had to alter many lyrics after A&R director Bud Prager, of ESP, objected. The liner notes suggest Mustaine was not a fan of the changes, but other interviews say the band actively sought and accepted Prager's advice for the album. "I figured maybe this guy (Prager) could help me get that intangible Number One record I so badly wanted," Mustaine wrote in Cryptic Writings' liner notes.
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