“Shroud of Winter” is aptly named because that is what these looming drones are. Crawling, plowing, ominous effects are churning from these amps, veiling everything around you with a shady blanket of haze. Thick, crunchy, smoldering guitar is sacrificed to the gods of winter and rises into their nostrils as a pleasing aroma. All I can think of is the dark of a wintry night, the visible gasps of your breath in the chilly air, the heavy layers of snow after a blizzard. Two monstrosities that round the 12-minute mark. Seek shelter or embrace the season. Fall is coming. That means leaves will turn, dry up, and fall. Then Winter. Great disc to have tucked into your Winter emergency kit. Really good direction. I’m glad Plante went this route.
Now, there’s something special about this CD-R and cassette. Not only is it yet another more-than-affordable, insanely cheap releases from Sonic Meditations. I mean, $5 ppd. for this? Talk about a steal. But, this features some bonus material. Earlier, Plante released “Fripping Awesome” on SM, and it was decided to include those two tracks on that previous release with “Shroud of Winter” as well. So, you pretty much get two releases for the price of one. Now, “Fripping Awesome” is pretty different than “Shroud…” but is a nice extra to have. Whereas, “Shroud…” is a menacing, approaching beast that is in the good company of folks like AUN, Sunn O))), Earth, etc. “Fripping Awesome” is much more relaxed. In fact, I would even argue that it’s a bit mellow and almost tranquil. It’s got a nice simple quality to it. Looped strings in flowery bloom with light guitar shreds that dance and shift like soft clouds in a summer sky. The second track on “Fripping…” is a little prophetic of the “Shroud…” to come, but is a good in-between stage that still errs on the side of mildness instead of the dark veil of “Shroud…”. Overall, great buy. It’s a good way to spend $5. Skip Subway and hit up the SM website. 8/10 -- Dave Miller (11 August, 2010)