Neutral Reviews of Black Amber by Agonist

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    Sybarite's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    A dry earthy and peppery amber, with smoky and salty facets which give it a subtle leathery undertone. The slight saltiness lent by the seaweed absolute certainly imbues this amber with interesting "touch-of-the-sea" nuances ,which one could argue lends it a more accurate true 'ambergris' approximation which other ambers tend to lack. So an ingenious and original choice of note which gives this amber it's own unique character. (And don't let said seaweed notes put you off, for whilst certainly present, it's use is subtle enough as could be easily missed unless focused on.)
    The 'earthiness' and ever-present 'smokiness' I imagine is mostly due to the cypriol/cyperus (nagarmotha) which usually tends to be so. Tho' it could also perhaps be from the amalgamation of the baser notes (perhaps even a particularly smoky vetiver variety, as some tend to be ?) It is however a rather different kind of 'smokiness' particular to the more usual cade or birch-tar, for example. It's difficult to explain exactly, but it's far less "bonfire" and more subtle peppery/earthy in quality. Here it reads more as a particularly smoky frankincense. Like one's smelling the burnt incense tears, smoke and all, from a lit censer (as opposed to just frankincense oil). ... There is also a subdued herbal presence in the background. But it's more like an indistinct melange of dusty dried herbs rather than freshly-picked 'green'. (Is that oregano I smell back there ??). And hiding beneath all this, the expected vanilla (for a typical 'amber-accord') is actually rather unexpected, for being surprisingly subtle and suppressed, used with such restraint that I'd say it's probably the perfect amber for a 'vanilla-o-phobic'. (Tho' personally I'd have preferred more vanilla with all that lovely smokiness. (Two notes I find most complimentary.) Another thing that's kept in check is the sweetness, it's overall a far more dry than sweet amber. And tho' I personally don't mind sweet balsamic ambers, I'd actually say that Black Ambers' dry resinous aspect is probably it's most alluring quality.
    And whilst this amber is certainly dark and intriguing, there's also something lacking for me that I can't quite put my finger on. Being a big amber luver a good 'amber' frag practically leaves me weak at the knees, Black Amber unfortunately, for whatever reason, just doesn't.
    Bottom line - there are just better, more captivating ambers & for a better price.
    (Tho' the newer 'non-sculpture' flacons certainly make these far more affordable.

    13th October, 2012

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    A sweetish incense-centered concoction which I find both interesting and disappointing at the same time.

    Pros: The quality of the incense is great. More leaning towards the one in L'Eau Trois and Messe De Minuit than to, say, Avignon or Preludio D'Oriente. Botloads of other resins and woods such as styrax, cypriol, cedarwood and sandalwood enhance the dry character while vanilla provides a sweetish facet to slightly smooth the fragrance.

    Cons: Not as potent as I expected, somewhat short-lived and a tad too linear...The seaweed note in the opening is meh. Fortunately it recedes very quickly...

    18th September, 2012

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