The newest period of Twenty One Pilots began with a trilogy of movies letting us into their inside world, laying out what it’s wish to stay within the minds of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. With the arrival of their fifth album Trench, a lot of their fervent fan base — aka, the Skelton Clique — anticipated the story to proceed unfolding with the introduction of extra characters and occasions. However, the album isn’t as simple as this. The narrative has unraveled considerably; it’s extra like a collection of fables explaining what life is like contained in the band's alternate universe.
Strewn all through the album are clues for many who care to dedicate far an excessive amount of time to selecting all the pieces aside. So after already deconstructing “Jumpsuit,” “Nico and The Niners” and “Levitate,” let’s bounce into Trench.
While your entire album doesn’t inform one conceptual story from starting to finish, we nonetheless be taught extra concerning the world surrounding DEMA and Trench. Early within the album, one of many key discoveries comes with "Morph," at observe three. Here, we be taught the identification of Nico, the titular character of “Nico and The Niners” and considered one of Joseph's key adversaries on this narrative. His full title is Nicolas Bourbaki, which is the collective pseudonym for the scientists who invented the notation for zero or “empty set” — the Ø utilized in a lot of the band’s branding through the years.
Nico is however one of many 9 bishops, and followers have theorized that every bishop represents a track from Blurryface, and every track represents a distinct character trait of the character of Blurryface. There aren’t any extra direct mentions of the Nine all through the album, so it feels extra open-ended to undertaking your individual insecurities or unfavorable traits onto the remainder of the bishops.
In “Pet Cheetah,” Joseph mentions that his home is the one with the vultures on the roof. Based on what we’ve realized already, this is able to counsel that his home is DEMA, the place the vultures perch on the roof to choose aside their prey.
Other callbacks on the album return to particular lyrics from 2015's Blurryface and 2013's Vessel. In “My Blood,” Joseph sings, “If you end up in a lion’s den, I’ll bounce proper in and pull my pin.” This harkens again to the previous fan favourite “Migraine,” during which he sings about being on a violent island filled with suicidal, crazed lions attempting to eat him whereas he collects weapons to struggle again. It appears like there aren’t any coincidences within the Twenty One Pilots universe; all the pieces is intentional. If Joseph is so prepared to leap within the lion’s den to save lots of a pal, it could possibly be as a result of he beforehand realized struggle in opposition to the “lions” and now is aware of defeat them. The observe “Chlorine” begins with a deep voice asking the place he’s been, which appears prone to be Blurryface, based mostly on different makes use of of pitch-shifted voices.
Other songs like “Smithereens” and “Legend” really feel like facet quests inside the primary storyline. Despite being surrounded by this limbo between the swells of despair and reaching constructive psychological well being, there are moments that exist on their very own. “Smithereens” is precisely the kind of love track I’d look forward to finding from Twenty One Pilots: It’s enjoyable and quirky, however what units it aside is how a lot coronary heart it's acquired. It’s the right approach to present which you could be depressed and nonetheless have stunning, blissful moments. “Legend” is a touching tribute to Joseph's late grandfather Robert, who graced the quilt of Vessel. These moments are a part of his life whereas in Trench, however they’ll exist as their very own recollections separate from Trench itself.
But the primary story all through everything of Trench is that limbo between being in your darkest moments and making it out the opposite facet. “Morph” explains how Joseph will preserve himself distracted and transferring ahead and preserve “morphing” so he doesn’t wallow in isolation. He muses over those and zeros that transmit messages to him, pondering if anybody is listening. It appears like he’s acknowledging the coding within the music that solely those that’ve confronted comparable struggles can really “hear."
It continues from there. “Chlorine” sounds at first hear like a cry for assist, however you notice the ingestion of the chemical is much less about harming himself and extra about cleaning himself of the darkish ideas within him. The beat is a chemical, as he says. Creating music is cathartic, however going to that place for too lengthy could be dangerous — very similar to ingesting chlorine. The most telling line comes within the second half when Joseph mentions how his physique lives on lead. He lives to create, however his creation now “doubles as a papermaker.” It’s not simply cathartic and therapeutic; it’s now his predominant supply of revenue. He depends on tapping in to his despair to assist his household, and it is smart how you would develop to despise the method at occasions for that.
“Neon Gravestones” is the second on the album which will redeem the band within the eyes of those that accused them of glamorizing despair up to now. They break down in nice element how our society and the media glorify people who die by suicide, making their complete story about their loss of life versus their life. The “neon” is a faux gentle, distracting from the individual and attracting all the eye in direction of the loss of life itself. This additionally ties again to the neon lights within the “Nico and the Niners” video, which can truly lastly clarify to us what “lism” is — the worshipping of the faux gentle. It tells you what to suppose, do, and say, nevertheless it’s not actual, a lot just like the voices in your head once you’re battling with despair. We’ve lastly began to interrupt down the stigma round despair, suicide, and psychological well being, however we’re taking it too far in the wrong way and glorifying it as a substitute of normalizing it.
The album has two actual heart-stoppers close to the tip. “Bandito” retains repeating a message all through the refrain about how one might take the excessive street however as a substitute he’s “going low.” This might have many meanings, relying on the way you learn into it. It could possibly be a reference to “I’m lighter after I’m decrease, I’m greater after I’m heavy” from “Nico and The Niners.” It could possibly be a reference to picking to create the album he desires as a substitute of taking the mainstream path and creating one thing commercially profitable. It might additionally signify him selecting to cover his messages inside metaphors and in-jokes, in order that solely those that relate will perceive the message. For occasion, "Sahlo Folina" — a phrase repeated a number of occasions all through the track. What occurs once you unscramble these letters? You get “all Ohio followers.” It’s all about what’s hidden throughout the music.
We’re used to Twenty One Pilots ending albums with a piano ballad that ramps as much as a crescendo. “Leave the City” by no means fairly reaches that crescendo and leaves you feeling slightly incomplete. This completely displays the truth that you by no means fairly attain the tip of the battle with psychological well being. It’s an ongoing battle that it’s essential to preserve working at. Joseph reiterates over the course of the track how exhausting he’s working to maintain the hearth burning and preserve himself alive, nevertheless it’s exhausting to place in a lot effort for barely a flicker.
Many components of this track appear to have double meanings. Leaving town and for now simply staying alive might both imply he’ll sometime make it out of his despair and can persevere till then, or at some point he’ll die however for now he’ll simply bear in mind to stay. The repetition of “they know that it’s virtually over” could possibly be referencing the bishops realizing the tip is close to as Joseph regains management over his ideas. Or, it could possibly be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the truth that their albums usually observe a definite sample, and any seasoned listener will already know that is the tip of the album earlier than even checking.
Whether or not there’s as a lot to learn into this album as I consider there may be, that is the ability of Twenty One Pilots. They compel you to dig via their music for its deeper which means, and also you usually find out about your personal thoughts within the course of. Through the previous months of deciphering clues in each piece of media they launch, I’ve frolicked reckoning with my very own emotions on psychological well being. I’ve thought concerning the significance of music that permits you to really feel like another person understands your battle, whereas not dismissing it or glorifying it. It virtually acts as a brand new leaping off level as a substitute of ready to hit all-time low, a brand new ledge to hold on to as you climb your method out of DEMA. The band has mentioned it time and time once more, nevertheless it’s not meant to be for everybody. But for these of us that want it, it’s there. In Trench, we're not alone.