Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween 2011 Reviews

As requested, here's a few short reviews of the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween scents I ordered. I'll do my best to describe the scents as they smell to me, but do keep in mind that scent is very subjective and these fragrances in particular tend to change more than most brands with individual skin chemistry.

The Changeling: The scent out of the bottle is a strong, rough, grassy dark vanilla. It has a bit of a buttery smell to it along with what smells like a little puff of woodsmoke. It reminds me of Monster Bait: Underpants with a bit of leather and dry grass. Once it's been on my skin for a few minutes, it lightens and adds a cinnamon-like spicy note on top of the rough, smoky vanilla scent. On me it smells both very dry (dusty/smoky/woody) but also very rich (heavy buttery spice). After an hour or so, it becomes very smooth and loses the rough/scratchy quality and becomes more creamy and I swear I smell a little leather with that smoky, woody vanilla.

The Gorobble: Out of the bottle it's a thin, high-pitched and extremely over-sweetened, sugary, and vaguely fruity rather than creamy scent. On the skin it immediately transforms to a light cinnamon and burnt sugar. I don't really smell burnt marshmallow... I do smell marshmallow if I inhale very deeply, but otherwise all I smell on myself is a sweet cinnamon sugar.

The Wiley Grasser: This one is WEIRD. The scent in the bottle immediately reminds me of auto wax... You know, like the stuff you use to wax your car? That's a scent I actually like, and I like a lot of odd scents like diesel, skunk, plastic, new kitchen sponges, sawdust, dog paws... But not necessarily one I'd think of actually wearing. After a moment on my skin, the strong piney petrochemical scent takes a backseat to PURE COTTON CANDY. Cotton candy on top of pine with a little powdery floral floating around in there somewhere. After a while longer, the powder comes forward more, the cotton candy is dominant and the pine mellows out, but the whole scent blended together is one crazy, bizarre, unexpected olfactory trip. I really like this, but man, is it positively alien smelling.

The Ta-Ta: Straight from the bottle I smell fresh flower petals with something a little dusty or dirty underneath. On my skin I smell a spicy, peppery leather with a soft carnation in the background. When I move my nose further away to sniff, I get a soapy, thick floral with a bit of leather at the end. The description lists coffee absolute, but I can't detect it on my skin. When the flowers start to back away, I can smell tobacco with the leather. It's not a sweet tobacco like a cavendish, it's a dry, unsweetened English blend tobacco. Then, after it's been on for an hour or so, the soapy floral scent almost entirely disappears and I'm left with a cool leather aroma (like the leather in De Sade and Whip), a very dry tobacco (like black Virginia) with a very faint, fleeting men's chypre cologne note.

Sonnet D'Automne: Out of the bottle I smell both bright grassy herbal notes and dry, dead grass notes akin to old lawn clippings. On my skin it immediately transforms into a sweet grassy scent with a smooth, light coffee/cocoa base that hits me in the back of the throat when I inhale deeply. It smells light, clean and somewhat cold/icy (not minty or menthol) in the way that Snow White smelled cold and icy but deepened and sweetened with that cocoa and coffee sugary base note. After an hour I start to smell an amber scent along with the sweet, light, powdery cocoa and the cool icy note, and most of the grassy aroma is gone. It still has a high, somewhat soapy floral note to it, but it's no longer distinctly grass or leaves.

Halloween in Las Vegas: In the bottle I smell that familiar BPAL 'red wine' note (very, very sweet and fruity but with a strange staleness to it) with a really creamy, sugary background. On my skin the red wine is dominant, followed by the distinctive scent of Dorian, a smoky drop of Snake Oil (it's subtle but adds a nice depth), a piney/appley scent like Samhain, honey and, at the very bottom of it all, a creamy vanilla frosting scent. It reminds me a LOT of Lilith Victoria with a heavy splash of red wine and a bit of Samhain. After an hour, most of the wine has faded and I smell that sweet honey apple Samhain smell (most dominant on my skin), the tea scent from Dorian (nearly as strong), the smokiness from Snake Oil (fairly faintly) and the creamy vanilla base.

And not technically a Halloween scent but I ordered it along with my Halloween stuff:
Sprinklecake: Out of the bottle it's almost unbearably sweet. On the skin it's much smoother. It reminds me a LOT of the Dylan's Candy Bar Chocolate Cupcake body butter. Even more if the Chocolate Cupcake body butter is mixed with the Cake Batter body lotion. Very sweet, very creamy, lots of sugar and vanilla. Something in here smells vaguely fruity on me as well, though it could just be all the heavy sugar notes. It has a little bit of a plastic smell on me, only at the very base of the fragrance, and that usually means it's too new and that it's going to age really well. I can't wait to smell this again six months from now. Right now it smells all sugar-frosting-candy-creamy-sprinkles (which I like) but I have a feeling it'll be really smooth once it mellows out for a while.

Lately with Black Phoenix scents, I find myself not liking them right away. Sometimes they can be a little sharp or jarring or loud when I first get them, but after I've let them age and mellow out for a bit, I feel totally different about them. I can tell that almost all of these are going to improve once they've sat for a few months.

In addition to these new 2011 scents, I also have a lot of the Halloween scents from previous years that are back this year: October, Samhain, Devil's Night (just get this one, seriously, it's amazing), Boo, John Barleycorn, Pumpkin Latte and Samhainophobia. I know each year's versions can differ a bit, but would you want me to do reviews of those as well?

You can see the rest of the Halloween scents here, and they are all limited edition.


  1. I love BPAL! I lived in LA for a while so I got to go to their events every month; so much fun.

    I'm typically into the sweet sugary pink girly scents, but Devil's Night is one of my absolute favorites. It just smells so perfectly fall in the best of ways. that it's cooled down here maybe I'll wear it today...

  2. LOVE those little vials it comes in! Almost tempting enough to make me try one, but I'm on a self-inflicted Perfume Hiatus until I get at least halfway through the bottles of my two Beloved Favorites I Will Never Be Without Until They Stop Making Them. Okay, at which point I'll probably buy another bottle of Third Beloved Favorite.

  3. Cookie, ahh how fun! I've always wanted to go to one of those! And Devil's Night is everything I love about fall all in one bottle. I have backups =x

    ItaliNicki, I'll make a note for myself to do them every now and then :D

    Collier, now I'm curious, I need to know your Beloved Favorites! And man, you're dedicated. I could never force myself to wear only two or three scents... My favorite scent is variety. lol

  4. Please review your other BPAL Halloween scents. I really want to buy some but I would totally appreciate some reviews from a trusted source first :)

  5. @ Scrangie -- I tend toward more kind of masculine scents: leather, wood, rocks, incense kind of stuff. "Standard" by Comme des Garcons is a crisp, woody, and (in typical CdG fashion) oddly chemical scent - which crazily resembles Goddard's silver polish. James Heeley's "Cuir Pleine Fleur" is warm but bright old leather with a sort of breezy top that reminds me of Choward's violet candy. Both are amaaaaazing, though the Heeley is a bit heavy for hot weather. Armani Prive Bois d'Encens is Love #3, and just thinking about it makes me REALLY WANT another bottle.

    The moral of this story is that the perfume counter at Barneys is a dangerous, dangerous place. The rare, the curious, the unique, the not-found-in-the-mall scents that'll knock you out.

  6. Collier, AWESOME. I like your taste in fragrance. I prefer masculine scents too (you said all the magic words- leather, wood, rocks, incense!), but I also have a huuuuuuge addiction to vanilla. So half the time I smell like a dude and the rest of the time I smell like a birthday cake. Sometimes both at once. Haha.

  7. The Changeling sounds perfect!

  8. Scrangie, I think your descriptions are great! I have a bottle of Snake Oil that I've aged about two years and it's now utterly divine for me, so I know what you mean about aging - I have last year's Samhain aged now that I like even better than the previous year. Yes, I would love it if you did more BPAL reviews, I really enjoy reading them! Thank you for these.

  9. Samhain is the scent that got my boyfriend and I into BPAL. It's just the quintessential autumn scent. I haven't gotten my Halloween scents in yet, so I would love to hear how you think they compare to their predecessors.
    I can't get enough of your blog lately, it's nice to have someone as into fall/October/Halloween as me!

  10. BPAL is so awesome I have the whole lovecraft collection :)

  11. Yes! Definitely do more reviews of BPAL. I just started getting into their scents and I am addicted!

  12. Hahaha...Scrangie, you like the smell of skunk? Oh my gosh! Hehe, you really are unique! :P I don't know anyone who likes that. You become more intriguing to me with each post.

  13. I'm wearing my three year old Samhain right now. :) I need another bottle, and I want to get Pallas Athene. I'm also toying with the idea of Autumn Cider, and your endorsement of Devil's Night might have pushed me over the edge.

    My BPAL faves are Samhain, Dorian, Black Lace, and Titania, though I have many more. :)

  14. Hi Scrangie! I've read your blog for a long time, but I don't think I've ever commented. I have a quick question about BPAL!

    I'm interested in buying some of the Halloween scents, and the website says that they will be live until November 13th. I'd rather wait to buy them at the beginning of next month instead of now, but I just wanted to ask you what the availability is like. When they say "live" do they mean that every scent will be available until November 13th? O does it mean that whatever sells out will sell out, and whatever is left by the 13th is still available for sale? I just want to know because I'd like to be able to choose from all of them instead of just a few.



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