Japanese guitar virtuoso Rie a.k.a Suzaku released her first full album, Kingdom of the Sun, on June 26, 2013, but I wasn’t able to find it until this week. On her three previous EPs, Rie a.ka. Suzaku aligned herself with a handful of talented Japanese vocalists, including IBUKI (who, I learned, is, currently, a member of an all-female metal band called Art Of Gradation), Dia, Kaoru, and others. Kingdom of the Sun, however, is all guitar instrumentals.
Now, most guitar virtuoso instrumentals appeal, mainly, to guitar nerds who revel in endless guitar solos, but, I am not a guitar nerd, and, luckily, for me, Rie a.ka. Suzaku also crafts amazing melodies with her guitar. Her songs work with vocals or without. Listen to “Heaven” which is included on Kingdom of the Sun as an acoustic instrumental, and on Messiah as a power ballad with vocals courtesy of Kaoru. Both versions are excellent. If nothing else, Kingdom of the Sun is the best guitar instro album ever (sorry Joe!). “Stardust”, “Starry Tales” and “Blue Planet” are melodic metal rockers, while “Cyber Moon” is industrial metal, “Fujinraijin” is epic power metal, and “Endless Purification” is darker thrash metal. The final track, “Milky Way”, is a piano-heavy ballad, an excellent closer. I love Rie a.ka. Suzaku‘s EPs, but, this album proves that she doesn’t necessarily need vocals to make awesome songs.
Watch the videos for “Kingdom of the Sun” and “Cyber Moon” here: