Twenty One Pilots
Trench


5.0
classic

Review

by Nathaniel USER (31 Reviews)
October 4th, 2018 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Welcome to Trench

Tyler Joseph is and always has been a storyteller. Each album in Twenty One Pilot’s discography tells a story. His story. The self-titled album had Joseph struggling with his religion, while Regional at Best and Vessel each dealt with his reaching out to people for help, for closure, for connection. Their most recent album, Blurryface, dealt with his anxiety and depression in the face of fame and popularity. But the band’s latest album, Trench, is a whole ‘nother beast. For the first time, Tyler Joseph tells a story outside of himself. Even though he uses layers upon layers of ambiguity in his lyricism, the story about Nico and Clancy escaping from the fictional city of Dema is perhaps the most important story to Tyler Joseph that he has ever told. The plot, while simple, builds upon the themes that the band has touched on before with a revitalized complexity this time around. Lyrical topics range from high expectations (“The Hype”), personal insecurity that competes with self-confidence (“Levitate”), and struggling with controlling tendencies (“Bandito”). Even then, none of the songs deal with any one topic exclusively. It is only through giving the album repeat listens that the songs give up their secrets.

But evocative lyrics do not always make an album good. It certainly helps, but what’s needed in every great record is equally great instrumentals. Fortunately, the musical foundation is stronger here than it ever was before. By learning the bass guitar, Joseph has added some much-needed bite to the instrumentals. Previously, he used synths, piano, and ukulele as a musical background, and while that worked well, even his most complex compositions lacked the punchy low end that would give them some weight. Blurryface remedied this somewhat, but he had not yet mastered the instrument well enough for it to work perfectly. Here it does. The riffs of “Jumpsuit” alone are a shining example of perfecting their alternative rock leanings they’ve toyed with on prior efforts. By embracing the element of distortion used here throughout the album, the band has shown fearlessness in delving into rough soundscapes, with the industrial drum n’ bass sound from “Heavydirtysoul” being used on the heavier songs like “Jumpsuit”, “Levitate” and “Pet Cheetah”. The lighter songs on Trench see Tyler going back to a sound highly reminiscent of the self-titled album. This is exemplified by the focus on soft piano and subtle poetry in tracks such as “Neon Gravestones”, ‘Bandito” and “Leave the City”. Drummer Josh Dun has significantly improved his stickwork on the album as well. While his drumming has always been impressive, here he experiments with rhythm more. He embraces sounds that range from drum n’ bass techno to a significantly heavier hip-hop influence. He has learned an important lesson – an appropriate groove matters more than a complex fill.

The growth that Twenty One Pilots have shown is nothing short of spectacular. After the release of Blurryface I was worried that they would follow Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco by taking a more accessible pop route. To see Tyler and Josh go in the opposite direction and being more experimental than ever is a huge relief, as they’ve crafted their finest and most mature effort since the self-titled. The soundscapes are incredibly varied yet consistent thanks to the band’s focus on aesthetic. With album five, they’ve perfected their “schizoid pop” blend of hip-hop, indie rock, and electronica. One of the most striking things about this album is, save for improved drumming, the whole album was produced by Joseph himself in his home studio. With only minor input from MUTEMATH’s Paul Meany, this showcases Tyler’s growth not only as a musician but as a producer as well. This is an album of singular vision, untainted by expectations and ready to meet the world head on. Welcome to Trench. It’s one hell of a ride.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
theNateman
October 4th 2018


3611 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Huge thank you to my boi ZombieToyDuck for proofreading this for me. Yous a homie

Divaman
October 4th 2018


3378 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Kind of psyched to read this. I'm hoping I like the album as much as you do. I have tickets for my family and I to go see these guys later this month, so I'm hoping it will be great.

Digging: John Boswell - Night Magic

tyman128
October 4th 2018


1244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review! kinda ticked you beat me to it, but that’s what I get for traveling... guess I’ll wait till I finish travels in 18 hours. Selfishness aside, your review was considered and well written, a good read for sure. Glad to see someone enjoyed the record as much as I did

onionbubs
October 4th 2018


11085 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

guess i gotta give this another shot

Digging: La Dispute - Panorama

Lucman
October 4th 2018


2138 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Solid enough record and their best since Vessel but the more I listen the more I realize that the second half is just plain boring save "Bandito" and the closer.

Digging: Emily Scott Robinson - Traveling Mercies

letsgofishing
October 4th 2018


1353 Comments


Yeah, Tymam, we retrospective reviewers are getting our asses kicked when it comes to timing.

Kompys2000
October 4th 2018


2366 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kinda with Lucman on this, for me everything after The Hype is pretty meh except "Legend"

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 4th 2018


14730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Hopefully this is good yeah

ExtinguishingTheSun
October 4th 2018


224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

If I dug Vessel but not Blurryface, is this worth checking out?

Kompys2000
October 5th 2018


2366 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I'd say this doesn't quiiite reach the high points of Vessel, but it's a bit more consistent.

xscorpio
October 5th 2018


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Honestly this is the best work they've done so far

It's more mature than Vessel and Blurryface, darker than both of those, and has a more complete sound. The instrumentation doesn't sound as cheap as it was before either.

Smithereens isn't a good track though (his way of singing smithereens on this track annoys the hell out of me. the rest of the song is just decent), and Legend could have easily been off of Vessel. It's still good though

Neon gravestones is probably the best one here. Pet Cheetah actually has a nice rap section too.

rickthecondorsmith
October 5th 2018


6 Comments


I saw the 5 rating and immediately thought the review would be satire. Gonna have to give this a shot

TatremyMusic
October 5th 2018


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm so surprised Fueled by Ramen didn't brute force the band's sound into something rushed and poppy like they did with Panic! at the Disco. Its easily the most mature record in their catalog.



Really, this is their best album yet. I just love how unpredictable the production on some of these tracks can get (that synth breakdown on Bandito is just perfect). You can even hear significant A Moon Shaped Pool influence on Neon Gravestones, easily the best track here.

Kompys2000
October 5th 2018


2366 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gave this a couple more relistens tonight, and y'know what, fuck it this is a 4

Kompys2000
October 5th 2018


2366 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also can we talk about how gotdam pretty the strings at the end of The Hype are

theNateman
October 5th 2018


3611 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"saw the 5 rating and immediately thought the review would be satire. Gonna have to give this a shot"



Do it man. This is nearly as good as the self titled. On first listen I had it at a 4, but this album just gives me all of the feelings, so I thought fuckit, lifes too short, gona 5 it.



"Also can we talk about how gotdam pretty the strings at the end of The Hype are"

And can we please talk about the outro to chlorine? Hot damn.

JayEnder
October 5th 2018


3199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pet Cheetah rules so hard

Digging: La Dispute - Panorama

StickFeit
October 5th 2018


1020 Comments


Never listened to these guys, always thought they were this lame radio band.

But this is actually pretty fun.

xscorpio
October 5th 2018


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5



"I'm so surprised Fueled by Ramen didn't brute force the band's sound into something rushed and poppy like they did with Panic! at the Disco"



And paramore too



"You can even hear significant A Moon Shaped Pool influence on Neon Gravestones, easily the best track here."



I didn't catch the amsp influence on it, but I agree it is the greatest track on here.



Faraudo
October 5th 2018


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wtf this is pretty good. I mean, they've always been kinda not horrible, but this is fucking great.

Digging: Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1



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