Twenty One Pilots’ highly-anticipated (and highly-hyped) album Trench is finally out and proving to be the alt-rock duo’s most mysterious and cohesive record to date. Members Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun broke their silence back in July with lyric teasers and the release of the two lead songs off the album, “Nico And The Niners” and “Jumpsuit” — which were just bite-sized tastes of what was to come on the full 14-song record.
The duo, who seemingly refuses to stick to one genre for longer than 30 seconds, showed off a much softer side of their musical range; however, for these musicians, “soft” is definitely a relative term. Yes, we still get a taste of Tyler Joseph’s famous scream/rap (especially with “Levitate”), but Josh Dun’s drum beats have relaxed and become more melodic than spastic.
There’s something about this album that makes it seem as though TOP has matured as songwriters, while refusing to neglect the core elements that made their previous three albums garner such emotional attachments from fans.
TOP has never shied away from addressing touchy and emotional subjects, but the seventh song on the record, “Neon Gravestones,” is by far the most introspective and jarring track on the album — addressing the glorification of famous people after they die. The whole song is moody and a little spooky (it is October, after all), and with Joseph’s slower, preach-rap at the end of the track, one can’t help but stop and pay attention.
Though their sound might have mellowed (ever so slightly), the duo is still delving into their own anxieties and depression — like they did in “Stressed Out,” “Car Radio,” and so many of their other songs — to create genre-fluid anthems for their fans.
And finally, the album ends with “Leave The City,” a piano-centered ballad with only subtle hints of Dun’s drums, and gives some indication as to why Joseph and Dun might have opted for a more low-key record. Joseph sings, “Last year I needed change of pace / Couldn’t take the pace of change / Moving hastily / But this year, though I’m far from home / In Trench I’m not alone,”
But thinking about the sound and lyrics of this record is just scratching the surface of what this album has to offer. Reddit and YouTube theorists have spent months speculating and piecing together what the duo could mean by Dema, and if this album has proved anything, it’s that Twenty One Pilot’s fans all have a talent for sleuthing. Theories began circulating after drummer Josh Dun, while collecting an award at the APMA’s, said, “Tyler wishes he could be here, but he’s actually severing ties with dema.”
A quick Google search led fans to discover that “dema” means “tower of silence,” and in one of the band’s lead singles for this album, Nico And The Niners, Joseph sings, “East is up, when Bishops come together they will know that / Dema don’t control us, Dema don’t control.” The plot thickened when Joseph gave an interview in his studio and revealed, “I wanted to create a world that I could go into a write from.”
So is Dema that world? TOP fans seem to think so and have even tried to uncover more hidden message in the band’s music videos, and we’re sure they’re parsing through the rest of the lyrics of the album to find even more gems.
With it’s slower, electric beats and ongoing conspiracy theories, Trench is not only the band’s most sonically cohesive project yet, but it is also proving to be their most conceptually complex record date. Twenty One Pilots announced their Bandito Tour running through North American, so everyone has a chance to see Dema come to life on stage.