In 1996, Dave Mustaine’s former band (Metallica) alienated their cult following by releasing “Load,” an album which was very commercial, simplified, and alternative. And even though Dave Mustaine and Megadeth would eventually follow suit and release “Risk” in 1999, they first made an album (1997’s “Cryptic Writings”) which pleased all metal fans, and helped make the Metallica fans less angry. Megadeth’s seventh studio album was, at the time, definitely their best effort since “Rust In Peace” came out in 1990. “Cryptic Writings,” which is kind of like a combinations of Megadeth’s last two albums (1992’s “Countdown to Extinction” and 1994’s “Youthanasia”), is full of crunchy riffs, memorable hooks, and famous, acrobatic guitar solos from axemen Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman. “Trust,” “She-Wolf,” and “Vortex” are all instant `Deth classics, and “Almost Honest” includes an incredible, long, wailing guitar solo. Elsewhere, “Use The Man” begins with acoustic strums and has a rhythm which subtly gains momentum and speed, “The Disintegrators” features fast, stutter-stepping riffs, “I’ll Get Even” has a very infectious and memorable sing-along chorus, and “A Secret Place” has a catchy, “Rust In Peace”-esque vibe and rhythm. So, “Cryptic Writings” is definitely another great Megadeth album, it is a mostly successful attempt at returning to the thrash sound of the 1980’s, and it is, in my opinion, better than both “Youthanasia” and “Countdown to Extinction.” And if Dave Mustaine hadn’t made “The System Has Failed” in 2004, this disc would still be Megadeth’s best album this side of 1990. Plus, if you buy the remastered edition, you get an unreleased bonus track (“Bullprick”) which is also essential for every diehard Megadeth collection.