Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Metamorphosis review

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

Act quick, these LE beauties float away on August 15th…

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Metamorphosis review photos: we heart this

As any BPAL fan knows, sometimes a collection is released that speaks so loudly to you, it practically screams. Metamorphosis was such a release for me. A revisit (a collection previously released) with all new scents this time around, it’s based on butterflies and moths, a theme often explored in art. They found obvious inspiration for the oils in their magical transformation, but also through the countless representations found throughout history. Everything from being a symbol of eternal love and devotion to blind desire and madness (i.e. moths to the flame). Does that have Black Phoenix written all over it or what?

The release is also beautifully dedicated to Beth’s daughter, Lilith, and the joy that she brings as she grows and blossoms right in front of her Mother’s eyes. Knowing this, I found this quote they included most touching:
Wake, butterfly –
It’s late, we’ve miles
To go together.

– Matsuo Basho
Aww! Ok, wipe those eyes, it’s time to talk smellies…

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Metamorphosis collection - The Moths

The Moths (all oils $20)

AtlasMallow, oak bark, coffee bean, hinoki wood, and khus. You’d think a scent with two types of wood, earthy coffee bean and khus (commonly known as vetiver) would be manly. But the mallow adds an air of sweetness that takes this straight to the uniquely rich kind of scent that I flip for. And, I have.

BrahminRose otto, red ginger, caraway seed, myrrh, orange peel, mandarin leaf, black peppercorn, and vanilla orchid. This is a spicy scent. I really smell the caraway, with the ginger floating in next. I think the florals get overwhelmed, which is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on who you ask.

IoRed musk, pomegranate, cranberry, blackberry, mango, purple sage, thyme, and angelica root. Wow, fruit-o-rama. But true fruit, not sickly sweet synthetic fruit that cheap body washes love so. This is like fresh fruit salad on a summer day kind of fruit. But like, a sexy fruit salad (thank you musk). Yum.

PussyOrange blossom honey, brown sugar, saffron, tonka absolute, and tobacco leaf. This was the scent I was looking the most forward to sniffing. Every since I first tried Underpants (the now legendary, long gone BPAL scent) and got a whiff of what saffron could do in a perfume, I’ve been craving a scent with it. Oh, this is good. Not Underpants good – but good! The best way I could describe it is woodsy honey. There’s a certain old lady perfume thing going on here too. Oh, I think it’s Shalimar that it’s reminding me of (which I love). Ok, I can’t stop sniffing myself. Maybe this IS Underpants good…

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Metamorphosis collection - Butterfly

The Butterflies

Blue MorphoWild orchid, pikake, honeysuckle, calla lily, agave nectar, pink geranium, violet leaf, and white amber. Our beloved Sherri is going to have to chime in in the comments about this one, as she got it before I sniffed. Looking at those notes, I’m very excited to hear.

Goliath BirdwingWhite sage, lemongrass, lemon balm, dusty beige musk, and drops of anise. Hmm, not a fan. All I can smell is Murphy’s Wood Soap. That might be a your thing though…

Mourning CloakOpoponax, kumaru, cocoa butter, Mysore sandalwood, verbena, almond milk, guiac wood, beeswax, and myrrh. The verbena is really powerful while this is wet. But on the drydown, out comes the deeper, musky notes, and a hint of creaminess from the cocoa butter and almond milk. Very, very nice.

Purple Spotted SwallowtailBlack plum, opium poppy, dusky amber, opoponax, castoreum accord, dried berries, tolu balsam, clove bud, and lime. This is a complex scent. The plum and amber hit me first, then in rolls bits of clove and a teeny, tiny bit of lime. It’s like some sort of dark, elegant fruit that only rich people eat!

And then there’s the lonely Cicada …

Brood XIXTree sap, hay, almond blossoms, moss, hemp, corn stalks, acorn, sweet amber and rice milk. This scent represents in one pretty little bottle why I love this company so much. Their ability to tell a tale, woven with snippets of both classic literature and pure imagination, then echo the tale in scent is pure genius.

On the imagination side, Brood XIX tells of a Cicada lying lazy in the sun, pitting an Ant who does nothing but work. But who dies later while the hardworking Ant is snug in its home, full of corn and grain that it so busily saved. Drawing from myth, the oil description tells us that Cicadas represent “indifference and idleness, and dissolution through pleasure,” represented in the sweetness of the corn and milk. But also “immortality and rebirth (due to the) emergent resurrection from the womb of the earth, and the embodiment of transformation and self-preservation through guile because of the way they shed their golden skins.” Which is represented in the earthy scents of the moss, hemp and acorn.

It’s got a creamy popcorn thing happening, which may not sound like something you’d initially want to smell like. But it’s warm, slightly spicy and sweet (but not sugary). For me, Brood XIX is absolute perfection and totally unique.

How about testers and readers, which scent makes you want to Metamorphosis? </strong (Label illustrations by Alicia Dabney).

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • Stef Andrews

    Stef is a plethora of things. Amongst them: co-founder of we heart this, photographer, condiment connoisseur, Philly girl in the California desert, borderline hoarder and a hardcore beauty junkie. She also has a touch of wanderlust and, arguably, the cutest dog in the whole world... skin tone: NC 25/30 skin type: oily with a fear of rosacea favorite beauty product: high end skincare and lip products


  1. Judging by the descriptions I want Blue Morpho, Purple Spotted Swallowtail and Pussy. Can’t wait to hear what the testers thought of these!

  2. They all sound great! But I think that Atlas and Purple Spotted Swallowtail sound insanely good. BPAL is just amazing! I wish that I could have a regular supply of their scents. I want them all!! Ohh to be rich! :)

  3. I love how they named their scents! I laughed out loud when I read about Pussy scent! :)

    1. I know, I feel a bit dirty writing and talking about that one. But it is a moth!

  4. I’ve never tried BPAL, but I’ve always been amazed at their interesting scent combos. They all sound very exotic, but hard for me to imagine without actually smelling. Do they sell a samples? I think I would want to order a bunch to see what my favorite would be before purchasing.

  5. Wow, these new scents sound amazing! @tiffany, yes they do sell samples on their website (called Imp’s Ears), but not for any of the limited edition scents–meaning, not for the “Metamorphosis” collection :(

  6. I can’t gush about BPAL enough. I’m so lucky there is not a store, otherwise I’d just go there and camp out until they made me leave, kicking and screaming…

    I think Pussy sounds like my favorite from this bunch. (You’re right @stef, that DOES feel dirty to type! :-) )The good thing about BPAL is you can pick out just a few notes that you normally like and you’ll probably like the scent; in this case the tonka and tobacco tend to appear in my favorites, so I think this might be a winner….

    Oh BPAL…you can do no wrong in my book.

  7. Oh BPAL how I love you! As always, when I first laid eyes on this collection I was struck by just how perfect it is…the thought behind the theme, labels, scents, wording, etc. BPAL is always a packaging lovers dream (without the physical packaging!)

    As for the Metamorphosis collection, as a former teen goth (before the word teen goth) I couldn’t resist Mourning Cloak (now renamed Mourning Shroud?). With such a dark name, I worried about a heavy scent, but the strong verbena note takes care of that. And just like the collection name suggests, this oil goes through a metamorphosis of its own as you wear it!

    At first, the oil smelled fairly strong of fresh, lemony verbena – and no other notes were detected. But as the oil dries on the skin, the other notes appear.

    Some woodsy, greens at first and than finally a warm, creamy scent (with the faintest hint of lemon) – in this third stage it reminds me almost of creamy, lemony hot tea. I can’t wait to wear Mourning Cloak on a cool, crisp fall day.

  8. I’m a BPAL newbie and this review makes me want to run out and try Atlas.

    Actually, I’d like to own them all because the label art is just so beautiful!

  9. Pussy, Mourning Cloak, Swallowtail, and even Goliath (because I don’t mind smelling like Murphys soap one bit!) all sound like purchases I’d have made without a second thought before a family ate up my beauty budget! Now, I’ll probably have to settle on one choice that sounds like my best bet: Mourning Cloak. Especially after reading your praises of it Tyna! BPAL does it again – what an amazing collection.

  10. I was enchanted and completely won over with the first BPAL oil I tried! This sounds like another amazing collection and since my one and only tattoo is a giant, beautiful butterfly, it definitely speaks to me!

  11. Black Phoenix Alchemical Laboratory ROCKS! Just like the rest of the gang, I have loved the oil blend fragrances I’ve tried thus far and I’m always impressed with the time, care and quality of the product. I’m in super in love with an oldie but goodie, “Morocco” but am intrigued as ever and hope to check out “Io” for its combo of some of my favorite scents. Stef wrote that it has – Red musk, pomegranate, cranberry, blackberry, mango, purple sage, thyme, and angelica root. I also would love to get my hands on – ahem. Pussy, there I said it but what’s also not to love about – Orange blossom honey, brown sugar, saffron, tonka absolute, and tobacco leaf? Can someone tell me what tonka absolute is?? I was also interested in Mourning Cloak – Opoponax, kumaru, cocoa butter, Mysore sandalwood, verbena, almond milk, guiac wood, beeswax, and myrrh- that just sounds yumcious! And Brood XIX too. Great review @stef! I want to sniff these babies!

  12. Oh geeze, how can a person choose?! Out of the Moths I think I like the sounds of Brahmin and Io. (My husband would LOVE Brahmin- caraway and ginger are his favorite spices and scents.) From the Butterflies I think Goliath Birdwing (Yep, I do like the scent of Murphy’s Wood Soap- I catch myself smelling my hands after I use it!) and Purple Spotted Swallowtail sound lovely.
    I can see it now, BPAL will drive me to destitution. I’ll be the best smelling bag lady you’ve ever met, hahah!
    For real though, if you’ve never tried BPAL, you must. Their scents are so unique, so beautiful. The scents are like a really great fine wine- accessible to the masses but refined enough to impress the best scent connoisseur. (<– That's a very poorly composed sentiment, but you get what I mean.) But be warned, they're addictive!

    1. That’s funny @mandaleem, I read your “fine wine” comment after mine and while it refers to a different aspect of wine, it is really true. Yep, BPAL must be the fragrance answer to a Pomerol Bordeaux.

  13. Pingback: The Daily Cookie
  14. I had not tried BPAL before–I always thought of it as a Goth Girl’s scent. Nice, but not me. Could I be more wrong? Sweet Seductress is how I’m going to refer to my BPAL. Blue Morpho is a very elusive mix of fresh and carefree scents and a splash of the dark and mysterious. I love my scents to be light, whether white floral or sugary sweet. Gone are the days of dark and heavy scents (Obsession, anyone?) for me. Blue Morpho actually morphs these two realms like angels treading on Mephisto’s lot. Those amber notes slide through to give the innocent honeysuckle a layer of sultry. Yes, this is a very complex fragrance and, like fine wine, I appreciate this rich layering much more as I get older. Blue Morpho is every bit as complicated as I am. Honeysuckle is the prominent note here, and it’s the one to which I most relate. A whiff of childhood along with an homage to old flings: a thinking woman’s scent.

  15. Oh BPAL! I heart you so hard. I so hope to smell Pussy and Mourning Cloak so soon. Ok in all honestly I wish I could smell them all soon. I might have to do a little online shopping.

  16. A special little bottle arrived today.. It’s “Io” and is a throw back for me!Come with me please. I remember walking into a real -not even kidding..hippy owned water-bed shop when I was about 10 and it smelled like this.. so fruity,and musky- mixed with sage.. loved it then and wow this is something else.. I’m dying to hear what people think of the way is smells on me! btw, I convinced my mom to get my sister and me our first queen size waterbed! LOL!

  17. FYI- forgot to say..a whopping Five Stars without even typing it! Everybody is freaking out over this stuff at the office! Awesome.. :)

  18. How is it that this is the first time I hearing about not only Black Phoenix, but of the Metamorphosis Collection? I love all things Butterfly!

  19. I got Pussy on Friday and have been testing it all weekend; it’s so lovely I can’t even make fun of the name anymore. It is very warm, almost fuzzy, like a nice warm blanket. There’s something in there I can’t identify; I think it’s the saffron, but it lends this lovely woodsy smell that keeps the honey and brown sugar from being too syrupy and overwhelming. It’s almost masculine, I’m in the process of begging my husband to let him make him wear it and see how it works for him.

    I love the way the tobacco adds another layer to the scent; one of my favorite fragrances is Tobacco Caramel from Fresh and like that one, the tobacco helps cut the sweet scents to make this just warm, dusky and lovely.

    @stef is right, there is definitely a slight old lady perfume to it, but not in a bad way at all. It’s more like old lady perfume, but at the height of its day; Shalimar as it was when your grandmother first wore it. Actually, I’ve never smelled Shalimar before, but @stef‘s comparison makes me want to go out and sniff some! :-)

    Five stars from me. Even if this didn’t work for me (and it does, it’s my new favorite,) I’d still give five stars just for packaging and quality. I heart BPAL in such a big bad way, it’s not even funny.

  20. Lenore Sherman says:

    loved it then and wow this is something else.. Oh BPAL…you can do no wrong in my book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *