This is a nice, smoky woods fragrance. It opens up and gets nicer after a few minutes. The spiciness is nice. The balance is good there. The sweetness is mostly good. It adds a softness, roundness, and wearability, but it feels like there could be a risk of slightly too much sweetness getting in the way of the smoky woods, whereas the spices definitely add to the character I like in this - think of cooking something spicy in a wood fired stove.
Eventually, the spicy, smoky woods burn off, and all that's left is a generic, disappointing, but not quite off-putting sweetness. It outstays its welcome, and becomes tiring, making the nice part a sadly distant memory, but I want to stick with a thumbs up, however marginal, to recognize the good moments from earlier on, some of which were really nice, and had me thinking this is something I could buy in a full bottle and wear routinely.
I'm glad to finally try out Memo Shams Oud as it has a good reputation in the fragrance community. Slightly spicy hints of ginger and pepper in the opening give way to a blend that's sweet and woody, mainly,the resins of labdanum and tolu balsam taking center stage, flanked by vetiver and oud on onside and the curious tonka on the other.
After the initial spicy blast, it's noticeably sweet throughout its life, primarily due to the resins but also the tonka lend its signature sharp sweetness, and this group contrasts the oud and vetiver and keeps the whole blend in homeostasis.
It's sweet, woody, creamy, and slightly earthy. Pretty pleasant and unisex, though I figure this to be a cold weather fragrance more than a warm weather fragrance.
Shams Oud is a great performer, strong on projection and even better on longevity. At relatively standard pricing for the line of $250 for 75ml, though, it's surely in the category of one needing to love it in order to buy it. I do think I love it but am not sure I'm in need of that much juice for this fragrance in particular, which would fit in among an assortment of quasi-similar resinous cold-weather-ideal scents.
To me it is the BEST one from this line. Although, from the ones I've tried, Luxor and African Leather are the honorable mentioned. I can see this house get many followers and I will probably be one of them. I can say without a doubt that Shams Oud will be a part of my collection as long as I can get my hands on it.
The opening is very sharp, resinous and spicy. I get the pepper,maybe some saffron and some type of resinous smell that is very sharp and dry. Although this facet is good, it is not my favorite part of this fragrance. About 3-4 hrs in, the pepper and saffron has taken a back seat. The smell has settled and it is no longer sharp and dry. It now becomes a comforting warm and embracing aroma that is probably the combination of the birch, oud and Tonka beans.
It has very good projection for the first 4hrs then it becomes and aura of beauty around you. It is more than a skin scent as it can be easily noticed from a short distance only to attract those near by closer in order to get a better sniff of this glorious scent.
I am 5 1/2 hrs into it and it is still on my skin easily noticed with the slightlest breeze of air.
At the risk of being wordy, I think it's worth noting that, in the West, we seem to think of oud as being agarwood, while the places with a history of it think of it more as a style of perfume than an ingredient. And one of the points of that style is that it's supposed to drone - it's actually a meditation tool. While this can make for some boring perfumes when compared to the ever-shifting complexity of, say, an aldehydic floral chypre, it's supposed to be all about meditating on the subtle shifting inflections in something that's mostly constant.
I say this because I agree with Deadidol's review that Shams Oud is kind of static. It bothered me at first, but once I accepted the beauty of it, it's really grown on me.
So what does it smell like? I get a lot of that Australian sandalwood that smells kind of like coconut water, mixed with frankincense and topped with the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil and a burnt soot smell. It has a noticeably green sharpness which I assume is the vetiver everyone is talking about. It never gets medicinal or rubbery like the more challenging ouds. Instead, I think this is more for fans of Le Labo's Santal 33 or CDG's woody incense perfumes. It's also sweet enough to possibly win over fans of Creed's Royal Oud as well.
This is a resinous and charred take on oud with a slight medicinal bite. Lots of spices upfront, but for the most part, it's a dry, scratchy labdanum. It's also extremely strong.
It starts forcefully with a blast of black pepper drowns out the resins, but soon after the balsam and the labdanum peek through. The oud accord is tricky to pull out as it's wrapped tight around the vetiver, and the two notes sit a little too close. The initial impression is one of earthy, dark tones – very resinous, smoky, and dry. It's pleasant enough, but frankly, quite unoriginal. Epic Man and La Fumee are doing something very similar to this.
Soon enough, Shams mellows out and the pitch drops down a few decibels. It becomes a tad more sweet, but overall, it maintains its labdanum / balsamic structure and doesn't really change that much. But that's true with many scents in this style because they're already dominated by notes that are commonly considered to be base materials (balsams, vetiver, cedar, labdanum etc), and what you get toward the beginning is probably going to resemble what's still on your skin ten hours later, which, for the most part, is the case with this one.
So, it's very tenacious and very durable, but very static. The problem I have with these kind of scents is that they're limited in what they can convey and they don't distinguish themselves very well from each other. The key is keep them from going too muddy, and shams just about manages that. The downside is that you really do feel like you're wearing a base in need of a perfume, so you have to resist the temptation to spray something over the top of it. Shams isn't that oudy, but it's dense and earthy. For it's genre it's fine, but it doesn't provide any new thrills.
Shams is basically an ambery, sweet, herbal and spicy oud scent, with soft and slightly salty vetiver notes and balmy hints of tolu balsam. I also clearly smell the ginger note with its peculiar spicy-resinous warm but sparkling sweetness. A decent Oriental oud, with a lot of nuances and flavoured breezes, spicy but graceful and sweet, with a nice woody accord which enhances and goes beyond the agar wood (there's also cedar, woody balsams, the abovementioned vetiver...). Even if they're not listed I am pretty sure I also smell some ambery-vanilla notes on the very base, which on the drydown are even more clearly detectable. A less trendy and less predictable take on "westernized" oud (no "gloomy oud", and thank God, not another "rose oud"). Quite light on my skin to be honest, and also with a short persistence: nothing amazing but nice, refined and pleasant.