Agonizing Terror: Portuguese death to false death metal and death by murder
Usually metalheads sell out – either when they make it big, or when they don’t make it at all and have to get a job, cut their hair, suit up and all that yuppie shit. But Portugal is not your normal place, and even if we don’t have a sexy church-burning black metal scene like northern Europe, we do have Agonizing Terror and the singer that stabbed his parents to death.
Agonizing Terror was just your run-of-the-mill death metal band: suffocating, oppressive and full of growls. In fact, most of their stuff dealt with social themes, not unlike a lot of metal bands, and the singer Tojó even gave fanzine interviews where he spoke against far-right ideologies and in favor of human rights. Besides being a regular presence in most local metal festivals and events, the band even won a modern music contest during the 90s, a time when metal bands popped up like magic mushrooms in a country where nothing usually ever happened. Agonizing Terror even played on the same bill as Moonspell, which is odd if you consider this was way before broadband internet and that they came from a very small fishing village, somewhat far from the capital, and not that close to Oporto. The band was regarded as almost a promise – which, if you listen to them, might make sense. They do sound good, like only those obscure angry 90s death metal bands could. Maybe song titles like “Massacre” and “Eternally Condemned” were a prophecy of what was to come. Don’t take them too seriously just yet, though; Tojó and his wife rehearsed and lived in a chicken house on their parent’s property, and his folks also gave Tojó a monthly allowance.
According to Tojó’s testimony after the fact, his wife Sara was the one that convinced him to kill his parents, after insisting on it for a great deal of time. Sara was also the drummer for the band, and someone that the court defined as borderline unemotional. Not even when she was absolved did she smile or even stutter. Sara was at first considered an accessory to murder, but apparently the evidence was not strong enough to convict her.
The worst part, though, is not that they planned everything, or that Tojó was arrested. It’s that they tried to stage everything to look like a satanic ritual, blaming poor, innocent Satan worshipers. They even did it on the day of the last solar eclipse of the century, but during the trial denied any connection to satanic rituals. Oh, the trial: how many times do you hear names like Alice Cooper in a court room (outside of the U.S.)? Even though I have no idea what the hell Cooper has to do with any of this. Come to think of it, he probably loved his parents to death. Lawyers even called in metal DJ António Freitas to give testimony about metal music, to see if they could figure out which way is up. How great is that? They even explained things like Death Metal is about death and worshiping Satan and Black Metal is about a post-mortem obsession. Maybe Heavy Metal is about lifting weights? Don’t you just love it when suits talk about stuff they know nothing about? Which is pretty much all of the time.
So the guy killed his parents because his wife told him to, and besides being a total fail, he didn’t do it for heavy metal reasons like a sacrifice to the devil, or to see blood gushing from their still beating hearts. No, he did it for money. Not heavy metal, but hard cash. All for a fucking life insurance policy and a house. That was the reason he stabbed his dad 33 times and, according to himself, had a harder time killing his mother as she was at the gates of the property (now that’s some metal shit right there). Then he tried to blow up the house and failed miserably, because his wife was either inside the house with him (which he denied in court) or was accessory to murder. This, in truth, makes no difference, because she is truly the one that got away. She walked free and divorced him, almost instantly. He was sentenced to 20 something years in jail, and kept obsessing over Sara for the first few years. Amidst all of this, there was this one friend with the band, Hélder, who played in a Black Metal band, Summum Malum. When pressed against the wall in court, he claimed that all the Satan stuff in his band was just a joke. The guy even tried to look more normal after the trial. What the fuck happened to all the “Death to false metal” shit we keep hearing about?
Fast forward a few years, Tojó was 40 and he wanted to get out of jail; he took up accounting, became a model prisoner and developed a hobby – watching stock market fluctuations. He got out early for good behavior, only to find out that Sara had married… a prison guard. Talk about poetic justice. Agonizing Terror only had two demos out, compiled on the 2015 CD Disharmony in Existence, with extra tracks. So now you know – if you want Black Metal you have to go to countries like Finland or Norway, but for trve Death Metal you come to Portugal.