William - Surface the Vessel (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Surface the Vessel (2006)


Members of metalcore bands aren't always the most prone to or accepting of stylistic change. And that's fine, some bands or individuals are comfortable enough in their shoes that changes are not really necessary. Personally, I still wouldn't mind more members of such bands to try their hand at some sort of different musical venture.

Will Goodyear -- he got that memo.

After spending time in Hopesfall, Prayer for Cleansing, and Between the Buried and Me, Goodyear has taken time to record two solo albums. The second, and decidedly more mature of the two is Surface the Vessel, William's debut on Textbook Records.

The album relies almost entirely on mood. As a multi-instrumentalist, a good deal of the full-band feel on many of the songs can be traced right back to his talents. But a songwriter first and foremost, the most impressive and most endearing of the songs on this record require an extremely minimal amount of instrumentation, or at least, a very quiet and reserved amount of instrumentation. During the more low-key moments, Goodyear's voice is both soothing and powerful, and helped right along by the twinkling rhythms that carry on underneath. It's as if he's got two completely different sides to him.

The first of those is the somber, vocal-reliant side of tracks like "On Borrowed Time," where there's nothing impeding Goodyear's voice but the slow and subtle smack of the bass drum. Yearning his way through the combination of the soulful violins and elegantly played chords, he finds a way to have the simplest of songs feel like there's an understated complexity. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't, but regardless it's a gorgeous illustration of what he can do.

On the flip side, "Moderate," the followup to "On Borrowed Time" is much more up-tempo, and somehow much less honest-feeling. The vocals are still strong, the arrangements still simple, but the song just screams modern rock radio. William needs to find a way to balance his two creative sides, and play a more up-tempo style without sacrificing any of the quality that's so prevalent in the more understated efforts. Once he's able to tackle that issue, the resulting album will be a much more well-rounded and much more efficient one.

There's some really stellar tracks on this record, and some that I could definitely have done without. I suppose you have to be willing to take the bad with the good. I appreciate the attempt at diversity -- it's something a lot of similar artists should attempt -- but at the same time, it simply didn't work as well for him as I'm sure he was hoping.

Here's to hoping for a more streamlined effort next time; it'd make all the difference.