Ambra Nera is a bit of a surprise. I was expecting a hippy-ish, Arab marketplace amber, the kind that is comforting, but so familiar it runs the risk of being yawn-inducing. Instead, I found an amber that is the stern, bookish sister in the family of ambers – nothing soft or oozing about this one at all. It charts an unusual course from bitter herbs and green mold to dust and smoking resins, eventually arriving at a surprisingly animalic heart before drifting off into a powdery, vanillic drydown that feels both more familiar and less distinctive than what has gone before.
Ambra Nera opens on a knife edge of bitter eucalyptus, providing a camphorous pungency normally associated with patchouli fragrances. Vetiver in the base adds a rooty, almost vegetal type of freshness that floats up through the scent and leavens the heft of the resins and powder. This is a gentle, airy sort of herbal accent, not the pungent and spicy feel of the bay leaves and spices in Ambre Sultan, for example.
In other words, this is not an oriental amber. It is more suggestive of the dusty, cobble-stoned streets of a small Mediterranean village than of the souk. And Ambra Nera is as much about the ancient resins of Frankincense and benzoin as it is about the amber. The incense is slightly smoky but cold in feel, as if the censer has been snuffed out and what we are smelling are the ashy remains of the resins.
Ambra Nera is also lightly but distinctly animalic, which was a surprise for me. The animalic aspect – the effect of an unlisted leathery labdanum or castoreum perhaps - appears halfway through the middle stage of the perfume and hangs around until it is overtaken by the powdery benzoin in the basenotes. The appearance of this leathery, skanky note is a jolt to the senses in what is essentially a dusty, stern church amber, kind of like someone whispering a filthy limerick in your ear during high mass. But the animalic accord is brief, and soon Ambra Nera settles back down into its basic character.
The drydown is extremely powdery and vanillic, which may be a problem for those who usually steer clear of powder notes in fragrances. I don’t mind the powder too much, but I admit that I am less fond of this last stage of the perfume, as it feels like too much of a departure from its more interesting and masculine beginning and heart. Still, all in all, this is a very interesting amber perfume, and one that is likely to appeal to anyone who likes spooky, gothic fragrances. Bookish and intellectual, it lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from the typical sexy marketplace ambers, and is all the better for it. It also contains a nice surprise in its heart – a warm, animalic accord that seems to contradict the cold, dustiness of the scent’s essential character. I like Ambra Nera very much, and although I own a lot of amber fragrances, there is nothing quite like this in my wardrobe.
This is a great and very complex amber based fragrance.
Right after first spray you will get hit by heavy blast of bitter resinous amber and honey!
It's very warm, sweet and bitter resinous smell which is very sensual and yummy!
I can smell a soft fruity scent, something like cherry in the background as well but it's not up in front and easy to detect.
As time passes, that faint fruity cherry smell goes away and now I can smell a soft animalic feeling beside the sweetness of honey and amber.
The animalic smell is mellow and I believe it's because of castoreum note which isn't listed here anyway!
It's a soft buttery and dirty animalic feeling that gives the scent a beautiful aroma. it's not stinky and sweaty like musk and it's not very heavy something like civet! very easy to wear and like animalic note.
In the base the sweet amber change more into vanilla type of sweetness. that animalic feeling still does exist and now I can smell some sort of bitter smoky aroma. I don't know if there is leather note in this fragrance or it's vetiver that gives us that smoky feeling but anyway it's detectable in the scent. it's not so strong but definitely it's there.
I can feel also a soft floral, green and slightly powdery feeling. maybe violet leafs or iris or maybe both.
Very sensual, complex and great scent.
Projection is very heavy (beast mode!) and longevity is 10+ hours easy. with two sprays (max 3 sprays) you're good all day long.
I was enticed to try this by the references to dark medieval smokiness and unexpected accords, and those things are certainly present in Ambra Nera, but not in the way I'd hoped. Medieval, yes, but in the evocation of dungeons and plagues. Animalic, not in the sense of your lover's secretions, but rather of urine on bedsheets in a sickroom. Smoky, not of spiritual meditations inspired with incense, but rather of bones burned in a charnel house. Thankfully there is no putrefaction in Ambra Nera: It skips from animal terror in an abattoir, directly to parched, walking skeletons.
All this from a smell? Doesn't that make it art? Yes. But again, not the kind of art I'd ever hope to see twice. I'm reminded of the wretched poseurs who dismember dolls, drive nails through them and glue them to boards. And indeed, I never want to give Ambra Nera another chance. It is a fine perfume, certainly, but I want perfume to support my desires, not cut into my scars.
I'd throw it into the ocean if I didn't fear waking Cthulhu. This needs to be buried in a churchyard, for the protection of souls, and also because I think it to be an appropriate fragrance for ghouls.
05th February, 2014 (last edited: 22nd February, 2014)
This is GORGEOUS stuff if you like dark-green herbal ambers. Great balance between challenging vegetal notes (almost animalic) and resinous woody amber (as opposed to woodyamber). Thick but not heavy, moderately sweet, enveloping but not loud and, most of all, far from the typical head-shop vibe of many fragrances playng similar themes...Last but not least, it comes in Parfum strength.
Smells ancient, dark, mouldy, nocturnal and absolutely compelling. This is to amber-centered fragrances, what Mazzolari Lui is to patchouli.
Top quality stuff.
Mentholated amber, and that's a good thing
This is stunning. What a surprising, unique take on amber. The amber is deep and dark, but it's paired with a huge menthol eucalyptus note that warps it into something else. What a strange combination, and even stranger is that it works so well. The cool green eucalyptus hollows out the amber and gives it this expansive, airy core without diminishing the rich resiny warmth of the amber. Wow.
There is a crisp, hyper-realistic cedar note in the opening that only lasted about 5 minutes for me. Then it disappears or blends into the comp, but I liked it a lot while it lasted. And I don't usually like cedar in perfume. The eucalyptus is very dominant at the start, and then settles into a nice balance with the amber for the next few hours.
This lasts a long time - 8+ hours - but after a few hours all thats left is that nice amber base. That's not bad at all, but not anywhere near as distinctive as what came before.
Cons: Simple drydown"