A loincloth-toting band threatening to tel the tale of Conan the Barbarian via the gift of heavy metal?

Ludicrous. What are there blokes thinking?

Of course, it’s ludicrous; but, once you’ve made peace with the fact that nobody will ever do this sort of chest-beating metal as well as Manowar in their prime, you are left with one other inarguable fact: In An Age Undreamed Of, Sweden’s Vanquished have come very , very close indeed.

The mid-paced chuggers like Pride of Aquilonia, with their simple structures, melodic choruses and irresistible gang vocals, are where Vanquished hit paydirt on this album. Coming on like a keenly-observed mix of Into Glory Ride, Hail To England and Sign of The Hammer, if you fell for this barbarian schtick the first time around there’s a fair chance you’ll do so again now, such is the boneheaded appeal of the music…

Niord of Nordheim does a passable impression of Eric Adams on the scorching Storming Venarium, but, despite the close parallels that even Blind Freddy could pick up between what Vanquished seek to achieve and what Joey DeMaio actually pulled off thirty-odd years ago, this isn’t just an exercise in bland imitation. Vanquished bring their own fresh, exciting edge to the party, managing to breathe life into a pretty tatty old carcass, in the process taking the listener along with them; Heimdal the Warlord and Horsa the Untamed play those eminently whistleworthy solos like their lives depend on it – and in their parallel, fur-bedecked dimension they probably do – whilst the thunderous war drums of – wait for it – Gorm of the Pounding Hoove – lock in with the four string motherfuckery of Wulfhere The Executioner to shake the very foundations of wherever you happen to be listening.

Given Manowar’s slow but sure fall into a pretty wretched dotage, a hole would appear to have opened up in the market for a truly convincing barbarian metal band, a band who play with the sort of wild-eyed conviction most could only dream of. Vanquisher could well be that band on the strength of this absolutely brilliant record.

An Age Undreamed Of is out now.