VIKING by CREED (2021)

There is a lot to a name.

And Viking, buoyed up by the current popularity for roaring marauders in pelts torching villages and carrying off wriggling maidens in blood and axe epics such as the recent Northman by Robert Eggers, or by the matted haired musclebeards in the ragingly successful TV series The Vikings, is presumably meant, by image alone, to evoke unheard of levels of masculine potency. Women will begin screaming, or swooning, on initial contact : caves of babies will be born forthwith.

According to a 2014 British YouGov survey, roughly a third of the UK male population consider themselves to have descended from the Vikings, while a quarter of women make the same assumption (the University of Bristol estimates the reality to be closer to about 6%). I have never personally done a DNA test, but as a white Briton it would kind of intrigue me, at some point, just out of curiosity, to eventually do so. Mostly a historical whirl of Germanic, French, Viking, Scandinavian, Roman in terms of ethnic ancestry, but depending on which region of Britain your forefathers settled in (the further south you go the less the likelihood), it would be interesting, in some ways, for me to find out the ancestral breakdown in my own cell structure.

Although undoubtedly partially Viking myself, then, purely through geographical coincidence – the genepool possibly somewhere hidden in my mitochondria, emerging in the gingerish strains of my beardhair if I let it run out like enough, unlike many – especially on the far right; those that feel terminally emasculated and are yearning for far more testosteroned times when your might could be proved by the sword and your seed ; those who re-enact battleground slaughters in costumes bought on Amazon or storm into government buildings baying like stags

—I personally have no atavistic or instinctual pull towards Viking culture whatsoever.

In fact I feel quite the opposite – and always have (give me the Romans and the Norman Conquest any day of the week). Maybe Burning Bush has some ancient link to piracy and pillaging seafarers and fiery wicks of twisted moss, but I personally can’t stand anything – particularly on the aesthetic level – that features dragon boats, hoary breath, boar carcasses turning slowly on the spit as women with long crimped trellises sew wool and the Norse gods are invoked with vein-busting sword bellowing amidst miserable freezing cold waves spewing onto jagged rocks; D is even worse. All of it just evokes feelings of pure anathema.

(With the global rise in ethnocentrism, and the sense that everything is falling apart into chaos, it is easy to understand why many people, no matter their ‘race’, feel a deep desire to retrace their origins and roots in order to capture a feeling of belonging to something – a tribe, a clan,

– I just don’t personally share that longing.

My extreme, natural aversion to anything of this nature – Lord Of The Rings, anything of the Dungeons And Dragons pixies and faeries genre notwithstanding, earlier in the summer, on the plane back home in August, we did valiantly attempt (though we knew it would be completely in vain), to watch Viking revenge drama The Northman, mainly to see Bjork as the soothsayer:

Good lord it was hard work though.

She, like the rest of the heinously overserious ‘epic’, which coloured in very computerized, artificial, digitally mood’enhanced’ greys and blues, felt half-baked and overcooked (I was a bit embarrassed on her behalf); the rest of the cast had also pseudo-absorbed her ‘diction’ with the most dreadful pseudo-Icelandic accents that made you want to immediately just stopper up your ears. No one needs to hear Nicole Kidman intoning thunderously in whispers, with a Sydney meets Reykjavik trrilling r’d lilt, as Queen Gudrun :

“Frrret not. You will die in battle, my lorrd. The gates of Valholl await you, I know it”.

A much more serious problem from the cinematic point of view, was the casting of Stockholm Hunk Alexander Skarsgard – presumably chosen for his rock hard abs and Conan The Barbarian Schwarzeneggerisms – who was truly overplaying the lead role of arch-avenger Amleth (supposedly a prototype of Hamlet);

For the forty or so painful and mirthful minutes we endured before pressing abort, all this actor, with his very limited expressions, could do (a permanently furrowed brow and ‘intense’ stare – I have seen stegosauruses in the Jurassic Park series display more personality) was roar, slay, flex the triceps and kill, then, do it all over again

…there he goes again

…. and again …..

Yes. I would definitely nominate Skarsgard for a Worst Actor Razzie; the film was intolerable, we were laughing in our plane seats at its profound insufferability, although it must be said that it was received rapturously by a lot of film critics for the detailed representations of daily Viking life and the general lightning-forked melodrama it impaled, so if you yourself are in the right mood for a dark and brooding revenge flick which features huge levels of ultrarealistic violence, wherein comeuppance is ruthlessly enacted whenever and wherever it can be, you should definitely give this a whirl (Richard Brody of The New Yorker had this belittling summary as his headline: ‘The Northman’: Just A Bunch Of Research And Gore’, dismissing its ‘thudding banalities’,) though he was definitely in the critical minority – most people are apparently just swept away in its bloodcurdling passions and antlers dripping in harpooned intestines; some of my friends also liked it…


Anyway, though by Odin, Allfather of the Aesir – – – – – FFS!!!!

What about the perfume review, I hear you beat your iron breastplates in fury: does Creed’s Viking, in fact, capture any of this meatly brutality; does it reek of a thousand armpits, of bodies sweating endlessly in bearskins for weeks on end, of rotting teeth putrid with unpicked flesh?

It does not.

As I sheepishly approached the perfume counter towards this one, eye rolling heavily in advance anticipation of a nuclear strength synthetic woody, I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that instead of what I expected to be a rival to Sauvage in the panty-dropper ‘performance dominance’ sector, slaying hotbreathing wenches in its stead, what I smelled, in fact, was a crisply and alluringly constructed orchestral ginger.

Fresh. Zesty. Kind of delightful. Affirming. While ginger – one of my favourite smells and flavours in the world – is not listed as an ingredient in Viking Cologne (a lighter edition of the 2017 edp), the spiced citric woosh of the juice (lots of mandarin, bergamot, pink pepper, allspice and nutmeg with a lightly fougerish base (lavender, geranium, olibanum, sandalwood, patchouli etc with a hint of sage) to my nose, adds up to an overall ginger thematic; this is brisk and uplifting, masculine, but could be worn by anyone, and it glowed quite nicely on the back of my hand for a whole day as I walked the streets of Birmingham. I even briefly considered Viking as a possible ‘me scent’ (I sometimes wear Old Spice), until the modern masculinity went a bit too potent in the base – not enough to conjure tongue-lolling heads on poles – but still, perhaps a little too much synthetic cedar….

Nevertheless, I was glad to have my (what feel to me innate) prejudices duped. The Vikings, although probably not the most peaceful bunch of tribes, assuredly had a lot more going for them than their very cliched, Hollywood onscreen representations would seem to suggest (and apparently there is no evidence whatsoever that they even had any horned helmets in the first place – this was merely a costume choice for a diva singing in an opera by Wagner – The Ring Of The Nibelung at a German 1876 theatre premiere). It was nice for me therefore, in a way, to discover that the Viking’s namesake perfumes was a fine spice, with touches of old school tropes but not enough to be rendered duddy, in fact quite refined and wearable – you might say even delicate. A very non-marauding, and pleasingly rendered, spruced; trim; and almost gentlemanly counter-stereotype.

1 Comment

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One response to “VIKING by CREED (2021)

  1. Is that bear hat comfortable?! Jk – not a fan of blood-and-gore epics at all in any language. I’m glad it sounds like the perfume went for the landscape rather than the cliché.

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