Edu Falaschi – Vera Cruz [Things You Might Have Missed 2021]

I fucking love Angra. When I was first hired onto the AMG team, I even entertained the idea of adopting the handle of Angra Metal Guy, partly in retaliation to AMG Himself‘s review of Secret Garden. That piece is what convinced me to apply to this blog in the first place. I agree with a lot of the Guy‘s takes, but the notion that Secret Garden was an improvement over the band’s older material, which is infinitely more effervescent and charismatic, is borderline delusional. Now, with the opportunity to review Edu Falaschi’s first solo outing of original material, I feel something close to vindication. I myself very nearly missed Vera Cruz thanks to my Secret Garden-esque indifference towards Falaschi’s records with Almah. If I had, I would have been missing out on what is, in essence, the best Angra record in fifteen years.

While Edu Falaschi’s upper vocal register has continued to age like fine milk, he is surprisingly responsible for writing all of Vera Cruz’s songs (sans the instrumental tracks). This is an insanely impressive accomplishment considering that it’s just as great as any of his first three records with Angra. Vera Cruz feels like the best traits of those albums compiled into a winning formula; it consolidates the exuberance of Rebirth, the sweeping conceptual scope of Temple of Shadows, and the heady technicality of Aurora Consurgens. The result is a swiftly paced slab of progressive power metal that feels roughly half of its hour length.

The brisk pacing is aided along by tracks like “The Ancestry,” “Crosses,” and “Mirror of Delusion,” which rival the best of Angra’s speedy power metal cuts. The subtle tempo hike in the back end of “The Ancestry,” in particular, kicks my ass with every spin. “Sea of Uncertainties” and “Fire with Fire” are a bit more restrained in tempo yet are no less joyously adventurous in their melodies and structure, with the latter track possessing a dual-chorus structure that feels as clever as it does massive. Yet “Land Ahoy” might ultimately be the standout cut, a slow-burn epic that fully embraces Brazilian folk music in crafting a uniquely colorful composition. Edu Falaschi’s ideas attain nearly universal greatness, with the only stumbles being the ballads, which are still catchy despite not quite living up to Angra’s standard.

Admittedly, it feels a little silly to go so hard in recommending an album that boils down to a capitalization on Angra’s most successful works. But I absolutely adore this distinctly Brazilian brand of power metal, and Edu Falaschi has captured the heart and sound of the style so expertly as to create the best record of its type since Shaman’s Origins. If that last point struck a chord with you, then Vera Cruz is a record that you cannot afford to ignore. It’s my favorite power metal album of this year, and one that I’ll be returning to for years to come.

Tracks to Check Out: “The Ancestry,” “Land Ahoy,” “Mirror of Delusion,” “Face of the Storm (feat. Max Cavalera)”

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