Oh well, I thought I would have never said this, but... Royal Oud is great. Hands down. It just works perfectly. It’s rich, elegantly powerful, it has a ton of personality, it shows an amazingly crisp clarity of notes. The issue is that it has nothing to do with oud, and I really mean nothing, but once you know and accept that, it’s really good. And “royal” indeed. Basically it is a delightfully complex and overall quite “bright” blend of super crisp spicy cedar notes (real – or however, really good – cedar, for once!) infused with some balsamic pine-floral greenness, slightly bittersweet too, oddly dark and quite new to me (the “angelica” note, I suppose), an invigorating slap of aromatic citrus-bergamot with a juicy peppery vibe, all layered on Creed’s trademark synthetic “sparkling musky ambroxan” base.
It may seem a simplistic déja-vu, but it’s actually quite unique. It’s truly a superb, almost loud rich spicy-green woody blend with a truly palpable feel of crystal clarity, of uplifting golden crispness, with a fantastic thin shade of dark. I get an intense “forest” vibe out of this, but filtered through a very mannered and refined lens. It smells round and sophisticated, at once powerful but bright and distinguished enough not to smell too obtrusive. Plus, the woody accord is plain great – it’s truly pure wood, extremely aromatic and realistic, something miles above the majority of woody scents. It just feels “stereo”, if you get what I mean, and very modern in its texture. And also it has that subtle, elegant, confident and very distinctive sort of balsamic-green feel provided by the angelica note (again – just a guess: I never smelled this material before, so I’m not sure if it’s that, but most probably it is). It’s basically a sort of balsamic absinthe-like note with a pine feel, so to speak. It blends amazingly well with pepper, cedar and the fresh citrus notes, and it also creates a sort of subtle bitter herbal vein with a subtle, exotic “poisonous” feel. This gives Royal Oud a very pleasant, and again, quite creative sort of “dark green” shade which is really perfect for the mood – counter-balancing the bright crispness of cedar, citrus and pepper and the designer-oriented dustiness of musky ambroxan.
For once this is something genuinely unique, distinctive, totally versatile, amazingly refined and absolutely compelling quality-wise and performance wise (beast longevity, Dolby projection). Still overpriced, a bit linear and ridiculously mis-named, but terrific.