It’s the most WEENderful time of the year! Yes, here I am with my corny weenie jokes, again. I’m not going anywhere with this comedy gold–and neither should you! Because aside from my dumb wit, I’ve got a massive review post for you today for a vast selection of the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab 2018 annual autumn/Halloween scents.
Once again, the skies have darkened, and summer’s last bright green leaf has turned, and the folks at The Lab this year have truly outdone themselves by exploring strange new depths in diablerie, as well as perfumerie. In addition to many classic treats, they’ve got a spooky Chaos Theory, a timely Edgar Allan Poe tale storyboarded in scent, and a ribald new series of blends inspired by goats in classical art.
I have dripped, and I have dabbled; I have splashed, and I have smeared–and now that I am a dead leaf, maple ghost, pumpkin blood, hag-scented nightmare, I am ready to share my thoughts with you on the stand-out scents from this year’s autumnal BPAL autumn lineup!
Samhainophobia (menacing Haitian vetiver, patchouli, and clove with a shock of bourbon geranium, grim oakmoss, and dread-inspiring balsams pierce the innocuous scent of autumn leaves) Does this smell like a diagnosable condition, an unrelenting escalation of anxiety and even terror, about things related to Halloween? No, it smells like grinding against David S. Pumpkins under black lights in a stranger’s basement while listening to Peter Steele during a sexy murder party, and I am INTO IT.
Pumpkin Musk and Black Oudh A “strangely romantic, disturbingly erotic” perfume; If you’re intrigued by Samhainophobia’s sex appeal but you’re feeling a little trepidation because you’re just “not that kind of pumpkin”, you could consider Pumpkin Musk and Black Oud to be its shy wingman of sorts: a rich oudh buffed and rounded by gentle musks–its attentions softer, sweeter, and utterly sincere. This is a scent that just wants to retreat to a quiet corner and hold your hand and learn all your deepest secrets and take you out for pumpkin pancakes in the morning.
Midnight Bonfire (night-blooming jasmine, smoldering maple leaves, a cluster of patchouli and blackened ti leaf, black sage, and pinewood smoke) Lighting the path between worlds, the beacon at the threshold; leathery autumn leaves and smoke-tinged hair, an unsettling souvenir of the embers and ashes from a towering blaze in what you believed to be a dream, encircled by shadowy celebrants of the midnight hour.
Ghost Music (sheets of white musk and lavender curling around a melancholy song of violet root, iris, neroli, and honeysuckle) One of the eeriest things I have ever smelled, and, ghostly indeed–in the sense that is a nebulous manifestation: there one moment, gone the next. A visitation by something that was never there. A tremulous puff of ozone, laced with the spirit of lavender and the memory of violets.
Yipe (sweet bloody black cherry cream and crushed dried blackberries) This is one of those scents that most definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone, but I am happy to report that this smells exactly like one of those delicious cherry danishes that are shrink wrapped in crinkly plastic and stacked in a basket at your morning meeting, where all of these C-level corporate dildos are spouting gibberish about holistically evolving vortals, and robust synergies in the cloudification of benchmarks, or how to objectively synthesize high-payoff human capital. You just bite into your pre-packaged cherry danish, discreetly lick the glaze from your fingers, suck the crumbs from your hair, and think to yourself, “wow, this danish is the best thing that will happen to me all day.”
Inside the Golden Amber of Her Eyeballs (sleek black fur and gleaming amber shining in the shadows, a rumble of myrrh, and claws as sharp as ti leaf.) A massively fruity amber. I wanted to love this one more than all of the Weenies put together (if solely because of the marvelous label art, and the accompanying poem), but alas, on me, this smells less of sweet, furry feline companions, and more like the mixed berry yogurt/gummy bear-scented version of them.
Pumpkin Dust (shavings of white pumpkin rind and honey powder) Desiccated dumplings flavored with pumpkin puree and autumn wildflower honey, crumbled to dust and scattered to the October winds.
Feeding the Dead (a barrel of beer, a pyramid of cakes, and three sticks of incense.) This is an awfully lovely chocolate scent for a fragrance that contains no chocolate notes. It’s not necessarily boozy, but definitely malty, with nuances of popcorn and darkness. Incidentally, “Popcorn and Darkness” is also my Midwestern death metal/campy horror movie parody band.
The Hag (black musk, bay leaves, galangal, bourbon vetiver, blackcurrant, and rum) is a wonderfully aromatic scent, that of dust-darkened, woodsy bramble berries, and the zing of black pepper and pine needles.
Scarecrow Turned Philosopher (corn husks waving on an autumn breeze, beams of amber sunlight, hay bales, and late summer wildflowers) A peppery, honied flurry of dried blossoms whirling across your path like so many fiery autumn leaves. A stray petal, smelling of the dream of nectar and summer’s golden pollen, briefly tickles your nostrils before it lightly lands on the surface of a drying puddle and, floats undisturbed, alongside the sodden remnants of a waxen candy wrapper.
Huesos de Santo (orange-glazed cake, dotted with anise seed, and filled with custard, set beside a bouquet of celebratory funeral flowers) A wonderfully rich, but perfectly balanced pound cake–not too buttery, not too sweet–with a dense vanilla crumb, packed with a creamy custard center and anointed with the barest drizzle of orange syrup. The florals are sheer, anonymous blooms and the anise (for those with concerns re: its medicinal bite) is, at least for me, baked so well into this cake as to be nonexistent.
Jupiter Nourished by the Goat Amalthea (goat’s milk, nectar, ambrosia, and honey) Imagine the perfumed components of this scent burnt as a sacrificial offering, and you will glean an understanding of how this opens, initially. Goat’s milk and honey, purified by fire, with only a scant scattering of ashes to indicate it ever existed. Pause. Rewind. See how it began its life as a milky cold foam latte, whipped to a frothy fluff, drizzled with golden bee butt-juice (how many different ways can you say honey, anyway? I’m giving “bee butt juice” a go to see if it catches on.)
Beloved combinations from the Pomegranate Grove: Promegranate Grove: Snake Oil Is a scent that I know lots of folks are dying to hear about, and I wish I had more insight for you, but it’s a very subtle fragrance (which is weird because Pomegranate is always so loud on me, and Snake Oil can be very intense!) The pomegranate is fleeting, sort of like a beaded curtain made of sweet-tart candies, through which the sugared vanilla of Snake Oil surreptitiously peeks its head and disappears. It’s okay, Snake Oil, we love you! Come hang out for a while! I might almost recommend this to someone in search of “Snake Oil lite”. Though I love Snake Oil, I think Pomegranate Grove: Embalming Fluid is more my speed; the dark fruit mingles with the green tea, aloe, and lemon to create a lightly musky spritzer that is wonderfully wearable and absolutely divine. As in, were I serving cocktails to goddesses, I might base them on this scent. Maybe not Persephone. That would be a little gauche. If you are a sweet + fruity scent lover, then Pomegranate Grove: Alice may be your jam, so to speak. To be specific, a dollop of ripe, jammy preserves spooned over a bowl of honey-sweetened cream and sprinkled with a generous handful of red rose petals.
Dead Leaves And Maple Sap Opens with a brief blast of those dead leaves, that damp, slightly sour and musty vegetal scent, but is quickly engulfed by the most glorious treacly, sticky ooze of dark amber maple syrup. After a moment, it’s apparent that the leaves are quietly rustling in the background, calming that maple sap screechy sweetness and providing a wonderful earthy balance to what otherwise might be too cloying, and not nearly as huff-able as it truly is. This is a perfect Dead Leaves scent.
Dead Leaves, Green Cognac, Iris, and White Leather This is a cool, powdery, rooty incense; unlit, and nestled on a small metal dish, it gives the impression of linens dampened with a spritz of violet water.
Dead Leaves, Sweet Myrrh, Leather, Green Pomelo, and Red Currant zooms right out of the gate with zingy, almost effervescent, bittersweet citrus peel, and softly dries to a light, lemony resin. Hours later it’s slightly reminiscent of a classic eau de cologne…but created from a base of sunshiney shards of crushed lemon candies.
Dead Leaves, Apricot, Ambergris And Tobacco I was expecting an overripe fruit bowl of a scent, but this is a lightly sweet/sour, apricot/lychee scent, ginger-tinged, with a core of salty musk. It’s very pretty, and don’t get any manky, dead leaves from this at all!
Dead Leaves and Warm Sugar Cookies I thought Dead Leaves And Maple Sap was my favorite until I tried this variant. Every leaf tells a story, and this is the story of the time you sat on that park bench in the center of town on a drizzly October evening, half-drowned leaves at your feet, dripping foliage just overhead, and you in between them both, desperately trying to keep your oversized, fresh-from-the- oven, vanilla bean-flecked, caramel-edged browned butter and brown sugar cookie warm. There’s probably more to this story, but do you care? You’ve got an amazing cookie. The End.
…and finally! Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s new collection, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque Of The Red Death, is comprised of seventeen fabulously sinister scents, accompanied by a wonderful audiobook recording of this bloody tale, narrated beautifully by Tom Blunt and illustrated with an assembly of reveling phantasms brought to life with label art by the marvelously clever Tenebrous Kate.
If you’ve never read the story, now is the time to slip on a pair of headphones, darken your chambers, dream of delirious fancies, and, “much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.”
Should you require voluptuous olfactory companions (yes, you should!) for this magnificent auditory hallucination, I have shared fleeting impressions of several favorite fragrances from The Masque Of The Red Death collection, below.
A Multitude of Dreams is the wanton, bizarre lavender + licorice pairing you never knew you needed; All Is Silent Save The Voice Of The Clock gorgeously swells and swaggers with merrily burbling pink pepper, writhing, sultry jasmine and velvety red musk; The Scarlet Horror, listing only notes of blood musk and vetiver is a chilling, yet utterly intoxicating blend that conjures visions of nag champa-saturated grave wrappings; The Tastes Of The Duke Were Peculiar, a lustrous, luminous intoxicant, an exquisitely wicked delicacy, all bitter wormwood, glittering lime-soaked sugar cubes, and a barbarous spike of mandarin; Illimitable Dominion Over All is an addictive cypress/birch/tobacco hybrid– a dangerous draught, a toxic tonic, a sharply herbaceous/coniferous pill of the most bitter variety, stirred into a leathery, swampy tar. It sounds miserable but it’s strangely habit-forming. A Certain Nameless Awe is a soft jasmine snuggie of a scent and The Red Death is a study in gorgeousness, all smoky, dusky woods and a bruised violet heart. And lastly, here’s a secret about me. When I die, I want you to prop up my corpse with a jumbo-sized margarita clutched in my dead fist because margaritas are the best cocktails and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. Lime is basically the best flavor. Neon green squeezy popsicles and green sour patch kids forever, is what I’m saying here! I had highest hopes for A Group of Pale Courtiers because of that lime note, and though its a shy one, and you might have to wait through a powdery musk, and a bit of spectral cologne, I promise your patience will pay off. It is the softest, glowing ghost of a lime, it is a little lime-y, close-kept secret, and it is all mine.
The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween 2018 collection is currently live and available for purchase in 5ml bottles for $26 each. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available for Weenie 2018.
Are you new to one of our very favorite indie perfumers, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab? See my three part primer here, here, and here. Curious about our thoughts on last years weenies? Peep here! How about a mini-review of the 2016 weenies? We’ve got that covered, too