“Trench,” Twenty One Pilots’ new album, was released on Oct. 5. A trench is a long, dark, narrow ditch, in which soldiers fight alongside each other in war. The album uses the concept of a trench as a metaphor for how people − especially Twenty One Pilots fans − are united against internal battles with fear, insecurity and mental illness. The album represents feeling a need to escape and being stuck between two places, said Tyler Joseph, one of the band’s members.
“Trench” is a continuation of the narrative in “Blurryface,” their previous album. At the very bottom of the world of “Trench” is a dystopian city called “Dema,” Joseph said, which represents the depression and darkness that lives inside of everyone. This album gives the character of Blurryface a name, Nicolas Bourbaki, or Nico, who is “one of the nine bishops that govern the city of Dema,” Joseph said. “Trench” focuses on Clancy, the foil to Nico’s character, who joins the rebel group, the Banditos, during his escape from Dema and its oppressive rulers.
Despite the album’s complex storyline, the messages and metaphors can be easily understood by any listener. In the intro track “Jumpsuit,” the lyric “I’ll be right there, but you’ll have to grab me by the throat and lift me in the air,” indicates how difficult it can be to leave a bad situation. In the same song, the lyric “Pressures of a new place roll my way,” suggests Nico might be afraid to escape from “Dema” or feels comfortable where he already is.
The album is definitely not for everyone: it includes heavy, dark topics like intense fears, insecurity, losing faith and dealing with depression and mental illness. But Twenty One Pilots faces these topics head-on. In “Leave the City,” Joseph sings “In trench I’m not alone, these faces facing me,” represents the united battle against these struggles.
The album uses elements of different styles of music: rock, rap, electronic, emo reggae, and indie disco. This is ambitious, especially because there is always a temptation to go more mainstream musically, just to make the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. But Twenty One Pilots decided to do the exact opposite.
The album is truly alternative. Since Joseph said “Trench” is about being stuck between two places, the fluidity between different styles of music really emphasizes this feeling of limbo. Twenty One Pilots is determined to stay unique, and this is what makes their album and story so interesting to listen to.