One man's tiger is another man's kitten, so it's with some hesitation that I type the word 'animalic' today. In recent months, it's been used in relation to a few releases (Liquides Imaginaires' Peau De Bête and Escentric Molecule's Kinski come to mind) with a fervour I don't find justifiable. But although I'm well aware that scent criticism becomes even more subjective when it enters the realms of what constitutes chaste or raunchy, it would be churlish of me not to announce that Pierre Guillaume's new Métal Hurlant is one of the most bottom-spankingly naughty scents to have made a pass at my nostrils all year.
This is Brando in a bottle. And by that I mean young Brando, of course: the walking danger zone who turned motorbikes into fetish objects in The Wild One and vulnerability into a seduction method in On The Waterfront. What's more, it is precisely what you'd hope for from its name: a simmering brew of heat, petrol and leather (notably without any overt fecal aspects!) that has 'below the waist' written all over its dark exterior. If that sounds like a clutch of olfactory cliches, then don't worry, because Guillaume has added several details to separate his composition from the usual, hide-wearing suspects. Perhaps taking his inspiration from the likes of Knize Ten, he has rendered the smoke and fumes more intriguing and more expansive with the inclusion of a subtle fruity-floral note (I'm thinking: geranium) and he's achieved a commendable evocation of polished chrome through the use of silvery, light-reflecting musks (in a manner reminiscent of Kouros, another scent displaying an ingenious contrast between filth and spotlessness).
The overall effect may grow too quiet too quickly, but perhaps this was Guillaume's intention: maybe he decided that such overt carnality couldn't be permitted to keep pulling back on the accelerator forever. Or maybe he just wanted to make people hungry for a re-spray. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and decide that the rapid cool-down was all part of his plan. After the initial onslaught, the relative calmness turns the roaring motorbike into a speck in the distance, a lonely figure slicing through the landscape with a glint of steel and a head-turning roar. Of all of this year's olfactory images, it's one of the most tantalising.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Parfumerie Générale and Bloom Perfumery in 2015.]