No cream, 15 sugars.
No kidding. The first words out of my mouth after smelling this baby was, "Dang. Not ANOTHER sugar water, synthetic bubblegum-smelling piece of..." Yeah, it's sweet alright. Sweeter than many people were letting on. But let's be clear, for what this fragrance is trying to achieve and how it progresses, I still think it does a pretty damn good job. A great one in fact.
Unfortunately, from all of the reviews online, I was expecting something closer to the smell of coffee beans. Instead, the accord that's used is a great deal closer to the smell of stale, canned dark roast coffee grounds. It's definitely pleasant - and if that's all you're used to drinking you'll be amazed - but despite the bitterness being there, it's certainly not the freshly ground organic stuff I'm used to. I know, I know, it's not fair to expect quality from a relatively inexpensive fragrance, but it's my only gripe, so I had to put it out there. Everything else is rather well done.
HMX starts off with a major blast of liquid sugar (tonka and amber), cinnamon and that coffee note in the far background. If you want to guage sweetness, think Ultra Male and Eros without the citrus. We're talkin' SWEET. And as it stands in the opening, rather generic. Fortunately, as the fragrance develops, it goes through a FANTASTIC transition, becoming less and less sweet with time and more and more bitter and smoky as the coffee continues to push through. Unfortunately, I don't get any of the whisky or leather, but it's clear that the mineral notes are adding to the bitterness. Overall though, as synthetic fragrances go, it's actually quite a joy to experience.
But besides the wonderfully dramatic transition, what makes this fragrance so appealing is HOW the coffee is done. It's certainly not the rosey brewed stuff you get with Montale's Intense Cafe; nor is it the vanilla cappuccino in Rochas Man, or the chocolate-dusted dessert drink in Ferragamo's Uomo. Instead, it's literally like a pile of canned coffee grounds (the whole aluminum can actually) floating in a bowl of sugar water. It's so strange putting that in writing but there it is.
Smelling it up close is attractive enough, but in the air.....maaaan. It's the bitterness that does it for me. Super alluring contrast, despite there not being a trace of natural ingredients. Sure, there's a touch of cinnamon mixed in with the coffee, but not enough to really stand out. And yeah, maybe it could've done with a little more amber to warm it up, but I think Beaulieu did a fine job. It's unique, it's playful, perhaps even a bit youthful, but more importantly, it's captivating. And that's a huge plus in a saturated market. Overall, a great spin on the modern sweet fragrance.