Smart-asses in more ways than one, Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian may not be the first to have read media critic Danny Schechter while pumping Slayer. A dumber band wouldn't think to pit coiled thrash against mock funk and Muzak straight out of commercials for beer and tourism, and a less adept one wouldn't know how to do it with the most plausible musical schizophrenia since the Bad Brains. The resulting Mezmerize, mitigating the band's turgid prog-rock tendencies, is more punk-spirited than any recent mainstream "punk." It's also an apt setting for Tankian's lyrical Tourette's -- "It's a nonstop disco, betcha it's Nabisco ... everybody fucks, everybody sucks" -- and a potential soundtrack for a nation fascinated by cheating housewives while tens of thousands of ch
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