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starbrow

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  1. starbrow

    In Splendoribus Sanctorum

    I love all three notes in this blend, so it was a no-brainer blind bottle last Yule. I was surprised when it was mostly fuzzy amber and fuzzier bergamot, with little influence of the frankincense. After a year of aging, however, the resins in this one have thickened considerably! YESSSS this is the thicc frank I was hoping for! It is now a rich, warm incense, glowing considerably with that amber that sticks around and melts down into the same amber as the Amber Incense and Honey Cakes (from the same Yule 2019 release). The cuddly citrus of the bergamot is still quite present, distinguishing it from other churchy incense blends. It gives this a bright, golden quality that is now beautifully balanced by the chunky frankincense, when before there was definitely an imbalance. If you smelled this one last year and were hoping for something different, give it another chance now. I am so glad I kept my bottle and plan to hang onto it and wear it a lot this Yule and future ones to come. For fun, I matched it up against two of my other favorite Yule church incenses, Midnight Mass and Snow of the Gravestones at Petersfriedhof. All three are very distinct! Midnight Mass is just as bright in its own way, but instead of bergamot, I smell a red fruit in it almost like red grapes or a cherry incense. I can't identify the exact red fruit, but it's almost a blood red wine kind of quality. The frankincense is less up front than it is in In Splendoribus now. And Snow of the Gravestones is a beautiful chilly frankincense (maybe even champa) with the best snow note I've ever smelled from the lab. You can smell the warmth inside the church, but you're viewing it from outside in the cold of the snow. In Splendoribus Sanctorum undeniably has its own unique place in the pantheon of Yule incense. I love it now.
  2. starbrow

    V'al Hanissim

    Last year when it was first released, V'al Hanissim was extremely similar to Light of Men's Lives, just with a 'louder' beeswax. After a year of aging, the beeswax has smoothed out into an ultra-warm creamy glow, with that distinctive cuddly amber around it like a glowing nimbus, and almost no smoke note. I almost smell a very smooth, light olive oil kind of note, very appropriate for the theme. This one is absolutely beautiful now, nothing sharp about it whatsoever. I adore it and it is now quite different than Light of Men's Lives, which has even LESS beeswax and gives off a wafty floaty perfumed kiss like Zorya P by candlelight. V'al is more grounded but just as beautiful in its own way. They are not total dupes and they are worth having a bottle of each. Just for fun, I also applied Endless Corridors from the 2020 Weenies. This beeswax is much scarier! It has the same "dread" ingredient from Amaxophobia and Shadow & Light (2020 Lilith). I happen to like that scary smoky-shadowed impending-doom kind of note, but if you are sensitive to beeswax, the unknown dread note might push it into harsh territory right now. I will be very curious to see how it ages too. All that said, V'al is amazing and I am so glad I have a full bottle of it. Keep keep keep.
  3. starbrow

    Svarta Fönix Bókaflóð

    I feel like this is such a personal experience of a scent, it's so different to everyone's nose and chemistry. Here is my own: Initially, the only thing I smell is the smoke, a slightly headachey whiff of the same smoke note used so sadly throughout 2018 (sad to me, brilliant to others!). As it mellows on the skin, more of the warmth of the spiced chai and the gently furry quality comes through, but only when I press my nose right up against my wrist. There is zero throw on me. I am not reminded of books at all. Alas! I adore the description and would love a scent that matches it.
  4. starbrow

    Typhon

    Typhon Resurrected bottle: A blind buy for me, and a HUGE win. I was a little scared by the Malediction comparisons, not gonna lie, but I took a leap of faith and went for it. From my SN tester of Red Patchouli, I can vouch that there is a beeeeautiful presence of it in Typhon. It's a resiny-warm patchouli that feels like the patchy sister of red musk, and a third cousin once removed from the dirty-hippie patchouli. It's almost a redwood kind of woodiness, which may be the sandalwood playing into it. Perhaps it's Indian Sandalwood, all rich and spicy. YUM. There's also a ton of silky-smooth vetiver, cool and slinky, not menacing. It invites you to sit down and have a drink, it's not going to punch you in the face. It's not Malediction's vetiver. It's smoooooooth. It's here to seduce you. And traditionally, black musk is my friend, except in powdery form like Haunted, but in Typhon it's all dark smiles and warmth, and stays away from any powder puffs. It is, indeed, still my friend. Together, these players form a blend that is warm, rich, decadent, beautifully aged, exquisitely resinous. It doesn't smell like many other BPALs to me other than Anne Bonny and Il Matto, but does have a classic BPAL vibe that age has only improved. I encourage anyone with the opportunity to get a decant or bottle to spring for it.
  5. Hold the presses, there's a strawberry perfume that is freaking delightful. Prior to this trio, only Beating the Tatami (and, lightly, Party Tricks HG) really satisfied my hunger for a good strawberry. Dies Patribus was a very cute bits of dried strawberry in cereal and cold milk, but the strawberries weren't really the star. Almost every other scent with the note has come up lacking in some way. Dried Strawberries, Red Musk, and Bourbon Vanilla straight up slaps. She is bawdy, gothy, vampy, the blood-red-lipstick-wearing big sister of more innocent days of strawberry perfume. Let us not deceive ourselves, she is a perfume. Nobody will think you've dribbled strawberry juice on your arms. But the red musk does exactly what it needs to do: give the strawberry something to latch onto and bloom within. a foundation of slutty-spicy-musky perfection that lets the summery aroma of the fruit waft. The vanilla does what it needs to do too - sweeten it all up - with a little extra complexity from the bourbon. The combination is utterly charming. She's grown-up, yet playful; sultry, yet breezy. I want to wear her all day long. It's THE summer perfume for me. I feel like someone on the fence about strawberry, who has never had one work for them, should at least give this a try. I think if you hate red musk, this will probably not be a winner, but you probably already know that . But if you get along okay with red musk, and you're looking for Strawberry Holy Grail, this trio is a MUST!
  6. starbrow

    The Red Queen

    There is so much bitter-almond cherry at the onset of this, I am kind of scared, because that's my least favorite note of all time. Thankfully, it burns off within minutes, leaving the good kind of cherry behind, along with a spiced (cinnamony) mahogany that does indeed have that polished lacquery effect that the lab loves to pull out time to time, like notes of polishing wax over the woods. This might sound a little odd, but it's strangely comforting. The spiciness and the lingering black currant behind the cherry and woods is giving me some holiday vibes. I'm not mad at this at all! The Red Queen gets a solid vote from me!
  7. starbrow

    Moscow

    Very soapy florals and a pop of something I thought might have been lemon peel when smelling blindly but turned out to be tangerine. The longer this dries down, the more grandma it gets. Like the grandma who wears perfume that she thinks smells fancy but actually faintly smells like her twelve cats. Sorry, Moscow. You get nothing. You lose. Good-day, sir.
  8. starbrow

    Morgause

    Those five nightbloomers (I think lizabelle hit the nail on the head with jasmine, honeysuckle, ylang ylang, gardenia, and moonflower) are really barking! So is the violet, powdery and wistful. I wish I got more of the purple fruits (PLUM! berries!) because they are far less present than the florals, and I would love it to be the other way around. For someone who likes beautifully blended night florals with perhaps a touch of soft frankincense, this is a nice option. However, an imp is plenty for me, whereas I dearly want a bottle of The Scales of Deprivation, so that should tell you where my vote in Tournament of Underdogs goes
  9. starbrow

    Vetiver, Patchouli & Apple Peel

    Initially, this is a lot of sweet patch and apple peel (which smells more woody and fibrous, like the solidity of crisp curls of peel rather than the juiciness of the fruit itself). I like this version of apple, it doesn't take me back to Country Apple places at all, but I'm not the world's biggest fan of apple patch scents. For instance, Glittering Waterfall (although I just retested that too and am in love, so...who know what this world is coming to!) After a few minutes on the skin, the patch and apple burn off and leave a vetiver that is so delicate and cool, I describe it as a silvery vetiver. If you've never smelled a vetiver that shimmered, mirror-like, and hovered in the air (as opposed to smacking you in the face with smoky grassy sweetness), you need to smell this one. This is the vetiver that shows up in those sheer orange blossom blends, but even better here. It is making some kind of magic with the apple peel, and the patch becomes a quiet support for the shining silver of the vetiver, which quietly clings to the skin for hours and hours. I wouldn't recommend this one to those who HATE apple, but if you are ambivalent or a fan, and the thought of a gorgeous, elegant vetiver appeals to you, this trio is a must-try.
  10. starbrow

    Ode on Melancholy

    I am shook, reading these notes! Testing it blindly, I didn't get lavender or rose at all! I did get dried petals/herbs, so that may be where those two bombshells come in, but clearly they are very faded and dry and, well, melancholic, rather than bombastic. There is a papery, dusty quality to this blend that is fascinating. It's almost book-adjacent. Like a well-worn volume of poetry that has been wept over lots. The watery tears creep through. It's not aquatic, it's so specifically the memory of tears, I'm stunned. It's in the same family as They Shut Me Up in Prose, although I do much prefer that one to Ode, which is quiet to the point of non-existence unless shoved up right under one's nose. Nevertheless, Ode is a beautiful and exceptionally wearable spooky scent that book-lovers and floral-haters might just want to give a second glance. It gets my vote in the Tournament of Underdogs 2020!
  11. starbrow

    The Coiled Serpent

    "Biting woods" was absolutely what I got, blind, from The Coiled Serpent. Cedar and raw pine, like a haunted walk through the woods or the Home Depot aisle at midnight while chased by chainsaw-wielding serial killers. Seeing the notes suggested by others, I can definitely see patchouli and red sandalwood being in the mix. Even a more masculine Anne Bonny. The pirate lady is the incarnation I feel much more at home with, but if you like your resins with a bite, The Coiled Serpent could be the winner.
  12. starbrow

    Schmendrick

    Schmendrick truly is a TRICKSTER. I keep going between thinking he smells like a freshly showered, slickly dressed court magician lacquered down in ~manly cologne~ ...and a raw-boned wannabe wizard a week into an epic journey, smelling of grassy patches of sage and clover that he's been sleeping in. I had a decant of this that was all the latter, so grassy and a little dirty and sweaty but so so cozy. In the bottle, less aged, it's a lot of slick cologne Schmendrick, and I'm not as BIG a fan of him? But fortunately for my tastes, it's not a hugely oakmossy cologne, and I appreciate that. If anything, it's a classic cologne that dabbles a lot in sage and chamomile, which is really unique and herby. I really wish my Schmendrick would roll around in the grass a little bit more; that would make him an absolute keeper. I tend to like femme-to-androgynous scents, and this one is just on the cusp of what I would love to wear. I am curious enough to age him longer and see which direction he turns.
  13. starbrow

    Coconut, Smoked Vanilla & Fig

    This one could have easily gone suntan lotion or *whispers* Bath and Body Works, summer-style. Fortunately, fig elevates this from pure tropical explosion to a Mediterranean beach, lounging in a floppy hat and designer bathing suit. There definitely is some element of sweet coconut lotion, but the delicate drabbles of fig brings something lovely and mature, fancy gourmand. The fig is juicy and ripe to me, but not dominating. It's quite balanced, in a way that many BPAL figs are not, because it can be a pretty bossy note. In this trio, it dances well with the other two. If I could wish for anything, it'd be more of the smoked vanilla. It's such a gorgeous note in the Cedarwood duet, and it could totally afford to POP more in this trio. If anything, I wish it'd been paired with something other than coconut, because I can *tell* there's a smoky sweetness beneath that coconut but it is just so obvious a tropical note. I think coconut fans will find this a wafty, elevated blend that is perfect for summer. I am still debating whether to keep my bottle or not, but it is undeniably beautiful.
  14. starbrow

    Dies Patribus

    This is EXACTLY what I hoped it would be! It smells like the bottom of a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles, when the cold milk and creamy half-and-half has taken on the coma-inducing sugary fruit flavors of the cereal. Sometimes milk can be "off" or sour as a note, but Dies Patribus is sweet sweet SWEET! That heavy cream is totally grounding the milk, richly gourmand, with soggy bits of Fruity Pebbles or Froot Loops floating around to bring you straight back to childhood. So cozy and yummy, very nostalgic. 'Fresh strawberries' is a little different than my experience with this note, however. Eat the Strawberries is definitely representative of the best of BPAL's fresh strawberry. Dies Patribus's actually reminds me of the dried strawberries found in Special K! So still very much in the cereal realm. A very authentic dried strawberry, extra sweet and a little crunchy. But if you're hoping for fresh, this might disappoint. For me, I was wholly satisfied with what this Father's Day served up for breakfast. Recommended for the sugary carb-loving gourmands among us!
  15. starbrow

    Valuable, Powerful, Deserving

    Orange blossom is a note that I actively hunt down blends where it's the star. It's such a delicate, romantic floral that it can easily get buried in a blend. I thought Valuable Powerful Deserving sounded like a great place for it to shine. And that is absolutely the case. The resin of the amber encases the orange blossom so beautifully, like a little glowing nimbus of light, and sweetened and deepened by the vanilla of the oudh. I remember getting this scent and thinking it was a little, well, boring, and that's why I've never worn it. But in the time since it's aged (did I try this on fresh from the mail or something?), it has gotten anything but boring. My indolic-sensitive nose says that this is the GOOD OUDH...the GOOUDH if you will. Good oudh, like here, is creamy, rich, expensive, a cloud of scent that is billowy and indulgent. Nothing to taint the scent pool, just delicious aged wood here! It pairs beautifully with vanilla, in not-quite-foody ways. I don't get creamsicle, but I do get youthful, joyous vibes from this blend. Hugging the skin and only rolling off it in small-range billows, VPD is such a livable scent for the summer. Sweet and yet resiny, nothing too heavy, the perfect tide-over for the oppressive heat of Florida nights when the curl of orange blossom on the stray breeze reminds you that there are some good things about these swampy summers.
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