Black Amber opens with a slightly boozy, syrupy accord of anise, a surprisingly light resinous accord (labdanum dominated) and a trail of tobacco smoke. A salty, marine kind of note comes in within a couple of minutes, it feels slightly out-of-place but adds this bizarre sideline to the amber which I didn’t expect… it’s both savoury, and sweet, adding a cool herbal greenery and driftwood vibe atop a sweet, resinous incense/amber heart. The cool quality is almost mentholated, like a touch of eucalyptus or mint, but it vanishes quickly as the warm, dry woods and resins underneath heat up.
The incense starts to dominate up top – a spicy incense that smells more like that of middle Eastern perfumery than church-y incense. The salty note seems to morph into a musky ambergris – the tobacco is slightly sticky, with a fruity, raisin-like accent (blergh!), the labdanum becomes more “amber-y” as the vanilla in the base begins to sweeten the entire fragrance.
From here on, Black Amber remains relatively linear. A musky, tobacco-tinted amber, with a spicy incense heart, a drydown of dry woods (cedar and sandalwood) and a touch of patchouli and vetiver. It’s surprisingly light, translucent, and once the top notes have vanished, pretty simplistic. Do I like it? No I pretty much can’t stand it, and I’m not too sure why. The opening starts with promise, then goes completely gross. There’s a small phase after about 5 minutes where it literally turns my stomach, a reaction I have only experienced with a few fragrances (Mona Di Orio’s Vanille and Byredo’s Seven Veils). The drydown is completely boring to me – a watered down, slightly “fresher” version of La Via Del Profumo’s far superior Mecca Balsam. There’s much better out there in this category so, not worth a sniff :)
Black Amber 50ml EDP Agonist – 125 Euros http://store.agonistparfums.com