Metal Trainer – Ro Panuganti – Music Review

by Jason Parker (Ragachak)

Metal Trainer Review

Not all metal, regardless of genre has to sound grim, depressing and dark. Trust me, I’m a metal connoisseur. Today’s recommended album comes from Ro Panuganti with Materia Collective, and it’s a nine-track banger. Ro Panuganti is known for his Youtube mixes, and this is definitely not his first album. I remember his Metroid one fondly, in particular. Not every track on this album is a heavy metal one, though. I feel like it covers a lot of ground, for example, with “Cerulean” using an electric guitar, but having a cool, mellow sound. It’s not a long album, clocking in at nine tracks, but he does pick some songs that I don’t often see on remix albums and some that are pretty much always there. The focus is on Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. With that in mind, a lot of these tracks regardless of choice will bring back fond memories for fans of the franchise, while offering something new and interesting to listen to.

Ro Panuganti discussed the album, saying:

“Metal Trainer was started as a simpler, more traditional rock album that people could enjoy hearing live and playing on the go, or working out,” comments arranger Ro Panuganti. “I quickly got pulled in the nostalgia of those first Pokémon games and realized that I had to keep things more progressive rock and metal to properly capture that epic journey. Some of my proudest arranging happened for ‘Lavender,’ where most of my ideas came when I just had my guitar in a room with no computer.

I played with how that song should go in a story, and eventually wrote some of my proudest, spookiest music yet. I hope that listeners feel that innocent charm of Pokémon’s city anthems, that fire in your belly from wanting to beat the intimidating gym leaders, and those ghostly chills that came from traversing Lavender Town.”

Viridian (Track 3): I’ve never heard Viridian sound quite so sinister, that is until I heard this track. It’s very bass guitar-heavy, and that’s a good thing. What makes Viridian stand out to me, is it feels like something KORN might have produced in the early to mid-90s, before shifting to a more traditional drum and guitar metal sound. The original feel of the song is still there but is hidden behind some grindy guitaring and a tiny bit of smooth piano towards the end of the track. I don’t remember Viridian City being quite so metal, but now I’ve gotta go there.

Pokemon Hospital (Track 9): And here it is, my favorite song on the album, without a doubt. It stood out to me for a few reasons. The doctor-sounding chatter at the beginning made me feel like something serious was going down, that someone’s Pokemon were seriously wounded in battle. Instead of just putting them in a machine, major work was getting done, and that’s both creepy and awesome. The Pokemon Hospital/Pokecenter music always struck me as eerie, due to being so cheerful. Pokemon are injured, and we’re playing borderline pop music! Ro Panuganti’s version starts somber, pairing piano and guitar nicely. It sounds like something I might hear on E.R. or House, particularly in a tragic moment when the heat is really on. It’s slower-paced, and most fascinating of all is that it just ends out of nowhere. It’s like an RKO, it just stops. Not all metal has to be high-speed thrash. This is tragic and slow music, and it needs to be appreciated.

Pokemon Mansion (Track 7): This is the more traditional-sounding metal I was fiending for. Rolling drums, filled with doom and fantastic shredding. The Pokemon Mansion is supposed to be unsettling and dangerous, and this remix matches that nicely. I’ve always enjoyed the stop-and-go staccato style of guitaring, and that’s found here as well. Pokemon Mansion would be at home on any number of 90s-era Thrash Metal albums, and so I wanted to highlight this as one worth listening to. It shifts seamlessly from style to style and keeps the same unsettling themes that the original song had. While every song on this album is fantastic, this is one I keep coming back to. It could easily be a hidden boss fight theme.

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