With Youthanasia, Dave Mustaine began moving Megadeth away from its thrash roots, incorporating synthesizers into their sound and writing subtle, textured songs. Cryptic Writings continues this evolution, which unfortunately reads better than it plays. Megadeth doesn't quite have the skill or imagination to craft such ambitious material; they sound better playing thrash, which they only occasionally do on Cryptic Writings. Essentially, the band sounds tired and listless instead of reflective, especially since the production is so slick. It's admirable that the group is attempting to move forward, but the music simply doesn't resonate.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine