Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Steam.Goth

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BPAL Steam.Goth

Oil-spattered brass, engine grease, and a warm splash of Victorian aftershave.

One of my favorite video games of all time is Bioshock Infinite, and my favorite character(s) are by far the Lutece twins. I had to try this scent because the notes made me think that this is what they would smell like. Steam.Goth is part of the Goth line, which were a set of exclusive oils for Bat’s Day 2011; other scents in the line include Romanti.Goth, Vamp.Goth, and Geek.Goth. Because these were event exclusive, they are no longer available.

In the bottle: A blast of aftershave with something very citrus-y. The citrus is definitely from the brass; I find that metallic notes can smell citrus-y. It’s not unpleasant, it’s just strong.

On the skin: The aftershave really blossoms on the skin; it becomes muskier with a touch of bay rum rather than just pure aftershave. It’s musky, yet softly floral, masculine, yet feminine. The industrial elements form the base of it, with the brass, oil, and grease creating a dark, dirty and now only slightly citrus-y base. This is exactly how the Lutece twins from Bioshock Infinite would smell! Unisex, pleasant, but industrial. It’s also strong with a lot of throw. This scent is really unique and I like it a lot.

TL;DR: Musky, gently floral aftershave and dark industrial citrus. Unisex and strong. 4/5.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Edith Cushing

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BPAL Edith Cushing

Pearlescent vanilla musk with white sandalwood, grey amber, white patchouli, ambrette seed, and oudh.

There are few BPAL fragrances more coveted than Edith Cushing from the Crimson Peak collection, which was an official collab between the movie and BPAL. Since the Crimson Peak collection is one of those where once an item is out of stock, its gone, Edith is very hard to find and it’s highly sought after. Bottles can go for $80 or more, so I jumped at the chance to try a single imp of it for 1/8 of the usual price. It’s got tons of notes in it that I like: vanilla, musk, patchouli, sandalwood, and amber. But will it live up to the massive hype?

In the bottle: Whoa, hellooo there vanilla! That’s pretty much all I’m getting right now; it’s also a very gourmand, rich, buttery vanilla that reminds me of Arcana Two Finger Ballet. Right now, they smell super similar.

On the skin: The gourmand quality to the vanilla vanishes, and the musk gets a lot stronger. It’s more balanced now, and very feminine. Musk and non-foodie vanilla are still the main notes, but I’m definitely getting a little bit of nuttiness from the ambrette seed. There is also an almost dusty quality to it, which is from either the sandalwood or the oudh. The dustiness really works here; it reminds me of an old Victorian mansion, which is a major plot point in Crimson Peak. Edith is like if Arcana Two Finger Ballet and Solstice Scents Manor had a baby. It’s a really pretty fragrance and I like it a lot. That being said, I don’t think that it’s worth the $80 a bottle that it usually goes for on the second market, but as always, YMMV!

TL;DR: Musky, nutty vanilla with a slight dustiness. Very feminine. 4/5.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Fuck You, Said the Raven

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BPAL Fuck You, Said the Raven

Glossy black, rough, and gravelly: violet-gilded opoponax, black patchouli, myrrh, and oak leaf.

As I have mentioned, I love Neil Gaiman; he’s one of my favorite authors. Recently, his name has been in the news because of the television adaptation of one of his books, American Gods. The show has received rave reviews and the book itself is fantastic. BPAL has been making a whole line of perfumes inspired by the book and the show, with over 60 scents in the current lineup. Of all the scents, this is the one I wanted the most, because of both the name of the fragrance and the notes. It sounded like would be a very dark, atmospheric scent. I make it a rule to not blind buy scents, but I broke that rule for this one; I purchased a half bottle from Crown and Tulip decants. If you ever want indie decants, specifically for BPAL or NAVA, this is the place to go. You can now buy this on BPAL’s website for $26 US.

“Say ‘Nevermore,’” said Shadow.

“Fuck you,” said the raven.”

In the bottle: DARK. Very opoponax and myrrh heavy. It really smells glossy and black, like the description says, but there’s something else almost mystical about it.

On the skin: The myrrh retreats to the back, but you can still smell it and it continues to lend a sort of magical/otherwordly smell. The violet and oak leaf come forward, creating a dark forest kind of fragrance. The opoponax and patchouli are forming the base, so they’re not as powerful as one might expect. There is also something almost “perfume-y” about it. This scent really evoked the image of a massive, magical forest at night, rustling trees and night-blooming flowers. Be careful in applying it though, because it is STRONG and I can see it easily causing headaches if too much is used.

*NOTE: Now that this has rested from travel, I like it a lot more. It’s much less floral and more “dark, magical forest” now.*

TL;DR: Violet and oak with dark, swirling resins. Dark and woodsy. 3.5-4/5.

 

Alkemia: Arcanum Experiment #18

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Alkemia Arcanum Experiment #18

Lavender, amber, steel. and stone

Every year, Alkemia does a special sale event where some of their unreleased scents and one of a kind prototypes are put up for sale on their Etsy for the incredible price of $6 US. I’ve never come across such a unique sale, and I was super curious to try a one of a kind prototype scent. 25 such fragrances were offered, and I decided to try #18; the notes sounded really intriguing and unusual because of the mix between the delicate (lavender, amber) and the strong (steel, stone). Most of these experimental perfumes are still available on Alkemia’s etsy shop, but several are sold out.

In the bottle: Super weird. It’s very amber on the outset, with the lavender coming if after with a back drop of cool, wet stone and shimmering steel. It’s not metallic per say, but you can still tell that is steel if that makes sense? The lavender isn’t super herbal, its very delicate. It’s certainly unique. I honestly don’t know if I like it or not.

On the skin: For some reason, it gets really spicy on the skin. The lavender also gets a lot more herbal. There’s something much sharper about it now than before, and I’m not getting any stone at all.

TL;DR: Strong amber, lavender and steel. Really weird. 3/5.

Arcana: Strawberries Crave Black Sand

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Arcana Strawberries Crave Black Sand

Amber resin with black coconut, coconut husks, smoky vetiver, and a sliver of almost-overripe strawberry.

Arcana recenlty re-opened with a resurrection event where several fragrances that have been out of stock for a while came back. For customers with purchased 3 or more bottles, this was a gift with purchase, available only that way and only as a 3.7mL dram. While I did not make any purchase during Arcana’s re-opening, I managed to find someone who was selling their bottle of it.  I was worried about the vetiver in it, everything else sounded so gorgeous that I really wanted to try it. This scent is currently unavailable.

In the bottle: Coconut is the main note here, and its delightfully milky. I get a hint of the famous Arcana strawberry note, and then something very dark in the back, which is that smoky vetiver. So far, the vetiver is working for me; it’s not too bitter or too sour. It’s just dark and smoky and resin-y.

On the skin: This one is a morpher. Once applied to the skin, the coconut retreats into the back and the strawberry gets stronger and sweeter. The vetiver also takes on an almost chocolate-y quality, but it still has that smoke. The amber also gets much more prominent.  At this stage, I don’t really like it. Then after about an hour, it morphs again, and it becomes a fruity blend of strawberries and coconut with a touch of smoke in the back. Now I like it again.
TL;DR: Coconut, overripe strawberry, and smoke with a touch of vetiver. Morphs a lot. very unique. 4/5.

Perfume: The Hall of Fame and the Hall of Shame

As you can probably see, I review A LOT of perfume. While many of them are great, there are others that make me recoil and I have to wash them off. Those are quickly sold or traded to other perfume fans who might like them more. So the question remains: what are the best and worst of the perfumes I’ve tested? To answer that question, I have decided to make two lists, with 5 scents each, for my favorite and least favorite perfumes.

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The MVPS.

First, we have the Hall of Fame. In no particular order:

  • Solstice Scents Cenobite (A deep Vanilla Bean which has a slight boozy liqueur note on application mixed with a pile of fresh vanilla beans and a sultry, smooth, rich and creamy French Vanilla.)
  • BPAL Dorian (A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.)
  • Arcana Fille de Joie (Delicate lavender marshmallows and yellow peaches cured in a vanilla absolute bottle)
  • BPAL Diligent Instruction for the Bridal Night (Sugar dusted strawberries and mallow blossoms)
  • NAVA Adele (Gold Alexandria Sea salt, Gold Peach Skin, Crystal Vanilla, Kobalt Vanilla and a kiss from Moonstone.)

Runner Ups

Next we have the Hall of Shame for those perfumes that really did not work for me.

  • Sixteen92 Theda (Tart sangria infused with ripe summer fruits (white peach, nectarine, berries, citrus), dark vanilla, wild vines, rose absolute.)
  • BPAL Wicked (Rich myrrh and jasmine draped in the subtlest rose.)
  • Solstice Scents Conjure Dark (Amber, Frankincense, Sweet Incense Smoke, Dried Rose Petals, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Woods, Oud, Vanilla)
  • BPAL Mouse’s Long and Sad Tale (Vanilla, two ambers, sweet pea and white sandalwood.)
  •  BPAL Antique Lace (A soft, wistful blend of dry flowers, aged linens, and the faint breath of long-faded perfumes.)

With perfume, it is always important to remember that something that I hate, you might love, and vice versa. Perfume is a very personal thing, and it really depends on your own taste and skin chemistry. That being said, I hope my reviews help you all make informed purchases, or help you decide not to make a purchase of something. Finding those holy grail scents requires a lot of trial and error, but its a lot of fun to test out different things!

XOXO,

The Scenturion

Nocturne Alchemy: Adele

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NAVA Adele

Gold Alexandria Sea salt, Gold Peach Skin, Crystal Vanilla, Kobalt Vanilla and a kiss from Moonstone.

Hello. It’s me.

While this scent review has nothing to do with the fantastic singer-songwriter Adele, it does share the same name. Adele was a limited edition fragrance from NAVA’s Art of Love collection, and it is quite sought after because it is apparently a holy grail peach scent. It took me a while to track a bottle down; will it be worth it? This scent is no longer available, but it could always be brought back during a Resurrection event.

In the bottle: Fragrant vanilla. It’s a lovely vanilla blend, because NAVA does vanilla very well, but where’s the peach?

On the skin: Oh my lord. This is glorious. The peach absolutely blossoms on the skin, and its the most realistic, juicy, ripe peach note I’ve ever smelled. The vanilla forms a sweet base for it, and while I can’t smell the salt itself, I feel like its there to cut some of the sweetness. It’s so creamy and sweet, but not really gourmand; it has this extreme elegance to it. If the Peaches of Immortality from Chinese mythology were a perfume, they would be this.

TL;DR: Juicy peach with soft vanilla. Simple, but done perfectly. Exquisite. 7/5.