The roasted chestnut POWERHOUSE
A few glowing reviews online, so I thought I'd check it out. Massively tall and heavy bottle, with a nice and weighty metallic cap. Atomizer is simply superb with a pressurized feel and huge mist. Top notch presentation for a very inexpensive fragrance.
Unfortunately, what I wasn't prepared for was just how oudy this stuff is in the opening. I've seen some descriptions that list only two notes in the opening - oud and.......oud - (double oud?) - and if that's the case, they ain't kiddin'. Oudh Intense oud indeed! Synethetic AF, and a massive blast at that. Nothing funky or dirty, but clearly front-and-center. If you've ever smelled oudTouch or oudVanille from Franck Olivier, it's literally the exact same accord. Straight forward, medicinal, piercing and.....sweeeeeeet.
Yes indeed, just like in oudVanille, the oud in the intro sits on a fine bed of straight-up sugar. It's more obvious on paper after the first 5 minutes, but luckily doesn't overwhelm the blend as the fragrance develops. On skin it's a difference story - the sugar is nowhere near as apparent and the warmer base comes through with gusto. Well balanced imo. But what puzzles me most, is that despite oud being listed as a base note in many middle-eastern frags, the accord in this one doesn't seem to last at all. In fact, its recession is nearly complete within the first 40 minutes. After that, the warm, slightly sweet, slightly smokey and nutty base comes out to play....
And that's when the resemblence to the drydown of Maison Martin Margiela's By the Fireplace becomes rather obvious. Not the smokey opening - but the warm-ish sweet nutty drydown. And that's basically how it remains until the end of the fragrance, which is.......well I'll let you know when that is, because this stuff is RELENTLESS. It just keeps going and going and going and 8 hours later we're still projecting like a mofo....12 hours later we're still getting wafts, 15 hours later it's reading me a bedtime story. Luckily, soap and water do seem to have SOME effect, so it's nothing like MFK's Oud Satin Mood, which seems to stand up to sandpaper and a blowtorch.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the stability of the blend. Although it's fairly linear after the initial oud vacates the premises, the quality of the scent doesn't seem to deviate at all. Twelve hours in, it smells pretty much the same as the first hour. And that's no easy feat! But I suppose that's par for the course in middle eastern perfumery? I wouldn't know. Don't have much experience myself.
But what I do have experience with is a variety of quality inexpensive fragrances, and this one is right up there with the best. Haven't smelled a decent replica of By the Fireplace since Commodity's Velvet (pun intended), but whereas that one captures the hollow smokiness rather well, this one has the sweet, nutty drydown covered. Superb value for the money, especially considering the performance and additional quality of the bottle. Perhaps not the most complex fragrance of all time, but a great one for the cooler months. No worries about cutting through the cold either. If you can get past the oudy opening, you're golden. Roasted chestnut golden. Enjoy!