It's understandable that the band name Grinder might confuse a few people, because this is in no shape or form related to grind music. Not that the cover to Dawn for the Living implies anything of the sort, or that the name is unfitting for a run of the mill thrash act, but people tend to see the forest for the trees. Arriving perhaps a year or two late to the label game, Grinder released a few average demos in the mid 80s that got them a gig with No Remorse, and hooked a personal favorite producer of mine (Kalle Trapp) to assist in their debut. It was a good choice, because Dawn for the Living has a nice, speedy sound to it with rugged guitars and well mixed vocals, but that sadly doesn't improve the overall quality of the music.
Grinder sounded very similar to other thrash/speed metal bands of their day. Certainly you will hear some Destruction, Sodom and Vendetta here, especially the first few tracks, which blaze along with some measure of promise, but the difference is made in the vocals of Adrian Hahn, which had a meatier tone closer to Sacred Reich or Hallows Eve than the vicious, heavily accented sneering so often associated with the Germans. I like his style a lot in the first track "Obsession", where the backing vocals do a great job supporting him, but the interest does wane after a time, because the band always seems like they're right at the precipice of crafting a good song, and then they back off. "Sinners Exile", "Frenzied Hatred" and "Dying Flesh" all create a good burst of atmosphere (the clean guitar/lead intro to "Frenzied Hatred" is nice), but never deliver the killer hooks or chorus parts. "Delirium" and "Traitor" are two of the better cuts, but they're delegated to the end of the album, before the goofy Nirvana-meets-punk metal of "F.O.A.D." and then a bonus live version of "Traitor", which adds no value whatsoever.
Wrench its contents tightly enough, and you may squeeze some enjoyment out of this debut, but there's just not a single song here you want to scream over or immediately replay. It's not an unpleasant 30-34 minutes (exempting "F.O.A.D." and the live), but neither is it worth choosing over any of a dozen better German bands at the time. You'd be a lot better off with Tankard's amazing hangover blitz The Morning After, or Vendetta's Brain Damage, or any of the kick ass albums coming out in 1988 all over the world. That said, Dawn for the Living remains the best effort of Grinder; their later albums are more spacious, mellowed out and take unnecessary risks that often render them unlistenable (yeah, worse than "F.O.A.D."), so if you're going to check the band out, certainly aim for "Obsession" or "Traitor".
Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10] (soon the world will know)