The opening of Fireside Intense is a perfect example of the American contemporary niche, which I quite admire for the creative work on new materials and new ways to communicate through scents. It opens with a rough, bold, powerful, almost aggressive accord, quite dark Ė "black", I' d say - and really thick, partially much synthetic (aldehydes) and partially more natural. I smell a lot of spices which remind me of Black Cashmere by Donna Karan (a similarity which will be even more clear further on), drowned in a black, oily, terpenic lake of dense notes among which black birch wood, tar, amber, resins, sour leather and something - which may be just an aftertaste of all this - that oddly smells like smoked bacon for quite a while. All covered with a fog of aldehydic metallic shades, slightly salty and mineral. Overall a black smoky-spicy scent stuffed with bold power, much evocative of dark woods outside town, with the breeze of dry branches and balmy leaves melting with the cloying smokes and poisonous oils coming the suburbs. Fascinating, but to me quite too much challenging to wear: besides behind quite bold and powerful, it's also much linear (which is the main weakness of many other indie US brands), so it easily becomes a bit boring after a while. Nonetheless it's creative, well-built (at least materials-wise) and worth a try for sure.
Spectacular master-combination of smoky woods, resins and leather which effectively (as well as deadidol and Alfarom have pointed out) are masterfully blended in order to "survive" beyond the initially deep-dark bonfire/camfire supremely (powerfully) smoky aroma while morphing towards a more subtle and "pacified" seasoned leather-musks-delicious (spicy) animalic resins accord. Fireside Intense is my second "encounter" with Sonoma Scent Studio after my Tabac Aurea's first examination in the past and I agree with deadidol about the way he specifies that while Tabac Aurea exalts more the sweet dryness of tobacco finally rounded and sweetened by soothing vanilla (despite the final dryness is absolutely "preserved") Fireside Intense takes its weird "salty sweetness" by a combination of ambery agarwood and bursting seasoned woods flanked by cozy castoreum and spicy leather. The first stage immediately exalts a typically "burnt woods-burning woodsy resins over the ablaze woods" effect. There is a faint humidity on the bursting woods and a typical sort of woody/resinous rubbery saltiness mixed with a seasoned woods mildness keeps rising up in the air. You can catch this salty/mild contrast of the fumes over a smoky/woodsy/leathery sphere. In this phase the smokiness is boisterous, realistic and slightly rubbery (anyway this feel is not a disgusting burning tyres effect but more properly a mild fir resins "decomposition" under the attack of the heat). In my humble experience while the burning cedarwood produces an almost salty woody-gassy vibe the guaiac wood gives off mild steams which I detect in this case as counteracting the salty woody/leathery resinous initial smokiness on the side of absolving woodsy resins of the forest. As much as the Fireside Intense's aroma evolves the smokiness decreases in intensity (but not in general influence and un-changed linearity) while a subtle "basement" of seasoned leather, oudh, amber, oakmoss and castoreum arouses its spicy mildness so finally appearing well modulated, yes warm (buy not yet smoldering/intense) and encompassing. All appears superbly blended and yes, impeccably and obsessively modulated despite I agree with the assertion of those who underline this is an aroma for the people who don't like to smell perfumey. I still detect dense resins and finally sandalwood joined with leather with that typical Montale Dark Aoud's stark savour which is in this case anyway far better appointed, less stark (I mean less dry spices/synthetic aoud centered) and more subtle. I see the association with Bois d'Ascese just in the initial part of the development, the one in which the latter smells more about burnt woods (blazing cedarwood and smoky fumes) while in a second phase I detect in the Naomi Goodsir's one the whisky and prevalently the honeyed incense taking the stage as flanked by oakmoss and resinous burnt elements (while in Fireside Intense the mildness is prevalently animalic, leathery/resinous and mossy). The final FI's outcome is a sort of warm/sticky but restrained woodsy leather and animalic amber combo which appears surprisingly wearable, well calibrated and close to skin. A must try.
P.S= the deep, deep dry down oozes a resinous smokey/leathery warmth with an ostensibly "red-berrish like" undertone.
01st June, 2014 (last edited: 02nd June, 2014)
This starts with a smoldering guaiac thatís perfectly positioned against a rich cedar, given depth through a tastefully subtle castoreum. True to the lineís aesthetic, the scent is impeccably blended and the components work together to produce a fragrance thatís really not intense at all, but is, in fact warm and encompassing. The balance is phenomenal; guaiac can go horribly salty and bacon-like or worse, quite bilge-y if not handled well, and here it hints at the salty direction, but is attenuated by other components.
Following a few minutes of warmth, the smoke appears as a delicate swirl of birch tar and cade. Anyone who knows those two materials is aware of just how potent they can be, and here theyíre rendered as a nuanceómere wrinkles of smoke that compliment the warm gaiac/castoreum blend. Following this initial transition, the scent stays fairly stable and consistent for much of its life, revealing a sandalwood and musk base later. The overall effect is indeed campfire, but itís quite a sanitized and palatable one. Itís less a scent that replicates the physical experience of being close to the flame, more of one that paints a vivid picture of the scene that you admire on the wall of gallery.
When worn in motion, the smokey notes seem dynamic, emerging from the skin in waves whereas the guaiac sits close. This produces a fascinating doubling effect, lending the scent character and appeal. But itís not simply that there two distinct profiles at work, rather itís as if there are parallel surfaces upon which both fragrances develop. Itís a fascinating affair in this respectóone thatís best appreciated by the wearer.
As with others from the line, the blending feels obsessive in its detailófinely tuned and microscopically refined. It takes close scrutiny to even identify that thereís leather at work in this scent as itís not immediately obvious at all. Yet itís definitely there, as is the agarwood/ravensara combo, but against guaiacís savory appearance, and combined with the smoke, the impression of syrupy burning leaves comes through loud and clear. The scent lasts a long time on skin, sits quite close, but has playful sillage.
So, in sum, itís not that intenseóand if itís a fireside at all, itís one with top-shelf kindling, bound with leather straps, and savored with leaves and resins. The name might create the illusion of a masculine, heavy scent, but itís more open ended than it seems. Itís dense, relatively dark, and quite dramatic, but itís the warmth and coziness that come through the most. While not as forceful as something like Jeke, and perhaps not quite as authentically realistic as Bois díAscese, itís on the same level as far as quality and construction goes, but it contributes its own worth to the genre through the sappy texture that the line does so sublimely. A fantastic scent in all aspectsóone of the best from the line.
A quick note: Tabac Aurea and Fireside Intense seem like theyíd have some real parallels, and they do, but Tabac Aurea is less about smoke; instead, it mimics the slightly sweet dryness of tobacco. Fireside Intense is more about a smoldering leaves effect with a smokier approach. Both have a subtle sweetness (Tabac Aurea is slightly vanillic, Fireside Intense takes its sweetness from a strange combination of oud and guaiac. Despite parallels, their profiles are different enough to explore both, but if you prefer dryness, then Tabac Aurea would be the wiser choice, but Fireside Intense has a little more character to it.
Campfire / fireside inspired fragrances are extremely risky because they often tend to bring to mind of barbecues or, more simply, of your house on fire. Fireside Intense, while definitely being smoky, avoids all these *unpleasant* associations and deliver a dark-woody aroma that will appeal to fans of thicker woody fragrances.
The opening is by all means smoky with a nice leathery vibe provided by birch-tar. The whole composition evolves around a guaiac-driven dry-sandalwoody bone structure to which Mrs.Erickson pairs a plethora of other woody-oudy notes. Fireside Intense feels very warm and while being definitely striking, it's not as scary as it might sounds. Powerful, dark and thick but somewhat weightless (as opposed to *heavy-handed*). Good for an evening spent reading a book in front of the fireplace but absolutely perfect for a walk outside during winter. This fragrance really shines outdoor.
A real gem and together with Incense Pure and Tabac Aurea, probably my favorite in the SSS range.
This scent on my skin has the most amazing aura of sensual, dark, new leather. The first spray suggests gasoline and then rubber, the rubber of tires and also the expensive leather of a brand new car interior. It's like gasoline poured over charcoal to make a fire on the beach in Malibu, and we are driving away urgently, the tires leaving burnt rubber imprints, but I can smell the new leather seats of the fancy sports car over the faint traces of smoke as we are peeling away from the scene. We are probably going for a hike in the dark woods, need to get there as soon as possible, seduction in the air, there may not be a moon but it doesn't matter for what we have in mind. Pure potential. This is a dark scent, sexual and brooding and very seductive. It represents the dark, intimate moment after first deciding to act on animal impulse but before anything has actually occurred. It is pure potential and at the same time memory of the physical moment that sources it. It is arresting, intense, and dries down beautifully.
That said it's not for people who like to smell perfumey. But I am 42 and a mother and I can carry this off quite well. I have a lot of experience to back it up. Love it.