Cryptic Writings is the seventh studio album by heavy metal band Megadeth. The album was released on June 17, 1997 and debuted at #10 on Billboard Top 200. This is the last Megadeth studio album to feature drummer Nick Menza. His departure would mark the end of the band's longest lasting lineup to date, having recorded 4 studio albums (beginning with 1990's "Rust in Peace"). It is also the first and so far only album where Vic Rattlehead does not appear at all in any tangible form, save for a limited edition collectible card advertising the Megadeth comic distributed by Chaos! Comics, which shows Vic in Hell reading a scroll.
A remixed and remastered version, featuring four bonus tracks, was released in 2004.
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 band utilized 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.
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 collectible 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.
- "Trust" - 5:12
- "Almost Honest" - 4:03
- "Use the Man" (4:04 on the 2004 release) - 4:36
- "Mastermind" - 3:48
- "The Disintegrators" (3:05 on the 2004 release) - 2:50
- "I'll Get Even" - 4:19
- "Sin" - 3:06
- "A Secret Place" - 5:25
- "Have Cool, Will Travel" (3:40 on the 2004 release) - 3:29
- "She-Wolf" - 3:38
- "Vortex" (3:23 on the 2004 release) - 3:38
- "FFF" (2:47 on the 2004 release) - 2:39