After a year-long hiatus, Twenty One Pilots is back with their newest and most hotly anticipated album Trench. After two months of teasing and speculation, the album finally dropped on October 5, and fans were more than satisfied with the final product. Following the global smash Blurryface, some fans weren’t sure if singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun could live up to the hype surrounding this release.
Fortunately, the doubt was completely unfounded.
Trench may be Twenty One Pilots’ best work production-wise in their entire career. The album flows like a river from the heavy opening track “Jumpsuit” to the crescendoing final track “Leave the City.” Every song has its place on this record, and the album works, aesthetically, as a cohesive whole.
In a way, Trench is a bit of a concept album, with the main messages of multiple songs centering around a fictional world that Joseph made to represent some of his personal anxieties. The story focuses on Dema, a city in which a character named Clancy feels trapped in by nine bishops (Nico and the Niners) who represent the darker parts of Joseph’s thoughts. Clancy escapes this city with help from the Banditos, a group of rebels who wear the color yellow to hide themselves from the evil bishops that want to bring Clancy back. He escapes to a place called Trench, a place where he finally feels some degree of safety from the bishops and where his insecurities are pushed to the side.
Now obviously this is all heavily metaphorical, but what exactly it is referring to is up to the listener. I’ve always seen it as Joseph explaining his struggles with depression and the sudden pandemonium of fame, but some have taken the symbolism a deeply religious route, with Trench representing the true belief in faith. This is why Twenty One Pilots has so many die hard fans; anybody can relate to their message because of how open-ended and broad it is.
The album sometimes faithfully follows this fictional story, and others diverges from it to talk about issues directly. One of the highlights of the record is “Neon Gravestones,” a plea from Joseph for society to stop glorifying those who take their own life. He even goes as far to say, “Promise me this / If I lose to myself / You won’t mourn a day / And you’ll move on to someone else.” This sends a provocative and timely message that not only applies to the treatment of other celebrities’ suicides, but also addresses one’s own suicidal thoughts.
The other musical highlight is the at-first-ballady track “Bandito.” The song exemplifies Joseph’s ability to build a song to a roaring climax with masterful effect. It starts off with a vibe that would be great for listening to alone at night, and soon transitions into a perfect song to play in any party.
Joseph truly is a jack of all trades, including hard rock, hip-hop, reggae, EDM, and many more styles into just one album. Trench is a darker and grittier version of Twenty One Pilots, with thundering bass riffs encapsulating both “My Blood” and “Jumpsuit.”
The only complaint I have is that there are two songs on the record that slightly diverge from the tone of the rest of it, but both of those songs –”Smithereens” and “Legend”– work so well on their own that it really didn’t affect my overall perception of the album.
Twenty One Pilots has done it again. They have managed to keep their old tone while working with new styles and production values that have changed their sound for the better. The duo’s enormous fan base will definitely be overjoyed with this new release, and it may even bring on some new fans who didn’t realize that Twenty One Pilots can exceptionally put together a fun and meaningful album.
by joel alexander–student life editor