THE DEVILSCENT PROJECT VIII
– a review of House of Cherry Bomb’s ‘Lilith’
What makes villains so fascinating? Is it that they’re more often than not expressing something, doing or instigating something we ourselves would never dare? Don’t we all have that secret part of us that wants to be thoroughly, utterly b-a-d, just once, just to say we did?
I wonder what I might have been trying to say when Lilith appeared out of nowhere and made her presence known in no uncertain terms.
I wasn’t looking for her. I rather suspect she might have been looking for me…
Once we got to know each other, I felt a bit bad that maybe I hadn’t treated her entirely fairly. Maybe, as I told a friend recently, she was the quintessence of every she-dog I’d ever encountered – and I’ve known a few.
Maybe…she had it coming.
The principle. Darling.
And yet…even villains need a little compassion, a few lighter shades of gray in the mix, lest they become too predictable, too inhuman for a reader to relate to. The tragedy of Lilith in Quantum Demonology is the tragedy of so many women…the tragedy of making the wrong choice, of choosing the wrong guy, and then coming to terms with your own bitter disappointment – in yourself, which is always hardest to swallow.
So Lilith made a few bad choices, choices with consequences she could never have imagined, and I like to think that’s what makes her relatable even as the antagonist – throughout her long, long history with Dev, she paid a very high price for never daring to face that disappointment.
Instead, she chose to let the rest of the world pay for what she couldn’t face, and became Lilith, Queen of the Succubi, the ultimate female nightmare…and what would such a fabled, alluring creature be in a perfume? How would her character and her glamour be expressed and explored?
Where Ellen Covey painted her portrait in poison Da-Glo green, Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl of the House of Cherry Bomb chose to tell a very different story, one that glows equally vibrant but in an alternate key.
Make no mistake – this is lethal stuff. Maria and Alexis know far too much about blending the essential oil of danger with fever concrete and lust absolute, and this Lilith is no exception.
The Queen of the Succubi rules this perfume, that’s obvious from its shocking, unnerving beginnings all the way to…but I’m getting ahead of myself, and this will not do.
Floral and heady, leathery and earthy, with musky undertones and something else, something that smelled – poisonous, even tainted. It was very erotic and so domineering it cracked an olfactory whip at my nose.
I will begin, as all stories should and perfume reviews, too.
With …the beginning.
Here she comes, black as night and blinding bright, making her presence felt with what I can only describe as a floral bouquet of carnivorous, rapacious blooms.
Beware the Polianthes.
She is out to devour you, get you as only she can when she gangs up with her equally heady, indolic ladies-in-waiting who lurk just behind her, wearing their sweetest smiles and their satin skins…the orange blossom breathing beautiful, the jasmine sighing a singular delicious promise she will never, ever keep.
Does this sound familiar, sound like something you might have breathed or loved before? Does it read as the well-beloved contents of a bottle you might even own?
I, who have survived this mortal peril in a perfume will tell you this for your own good:
For no familiarity has ever graced these blooms that grew, were fed and were watered by the river Lethe, exuding their fatal majesty beneath a starless sky in Hell. Breathe this perfume all the way in, and you will forget yourself as you breathe, forget you have ever known any other kind of splendor, forget all you ever were and everything you are. Forget the velvet-soft caress of those glowing moonlit petals, even as they slide across your skin and your soul and entwine themselves around you, you are far too transported to notice, even as they tighten, even as this sweet, honeyed breath threatens to stifle your own.
You will be lost, you will be doomed, and you won’t, you don’t, you are incapable of even thinking about the peril of your fate.
But there is more to Lilith than this, and as she tells this story you have never breathed before, she shifts in a stealthy, eerie segue to something equally sweet and even green, with heavy and heady intimations of musk that deepen and darken as she evolves, tinted ever blacker but never less than heavenly – or infernal, depending on your point of view. She growls her last on your skin hours and hours later with a bitter drydown that brands itself into your awareness and haunts those fevered dreams you can never admit in daylight to anyone at all.
I can guess what you’re thinking. Hyperbole, an overactive imagination, perhaps a glass of wine too many?
No. I am as sober as the empty page. It’s just …this perfume, you see, that takes away all common sense and all inhibition and haunts everyone it devours in its path.
I even like to believe that the silk scarf I forgot on my one date of the year, a scarf as saturated with Lilith as the rest of me that night to remember, will haunt the dreams of the one who kept it… forever.
You don’t mess with the Queen of the Succubi.
The House of Cherry Bomb’s ‘Lilith’ came with a sealed-wax admonition on scorched parchment paper:
“The secrets of the Succubi are bound in blood. The contents of this vial shall not be known to mankind. As sealed by Lilith.”
I’ve warned you. Will you listen? Or will you, too fall prey to the harrowing beauty – of Lilith?
With my deepest thanks and immortal gratitude to Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl.
Alexis has also been inspired by my Lilith to write this haunting song:
“Lilith – Live” (YouTube)
Image: Nadja Auermann photographed by Richard Avedon, 1995