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Great consternation had been caused in the German thrash metal scene by the rumours that Grinder would use funky guitars on this EP. It was becoming apparent that the band would be guilty of treason. What would be the proper punishment, this seemed to be the most frequently asked question. But this was just a storm in a teacup. The lead guitarist played three funky tones during the opener. Honestly, this tiny offense against common decency and metallic morality was not worth mentioning. This was especially true considering that Grinder skillfully combined the fairly funky verse with an explosive thrash metal chorus that was free from external influences. I enjoyed the speedy music and the casual lyrics about a "fucked up personality" as well. The two following songs completed the trio of brand new pieces. The sinister "Incarnation Off" tried relatively successfully to create a menacing atmosphere while the fast-paced "Truth in the Hands of Judas" followed a more or less ordinary speed metal songwriting formula. The three new compositions reached the usual standard of the band so that there was no reason to complain. This also applied to the production, which met the expectations.
The second half of the album consisted of three live tracks. Seen retrospectively, this was a nice and interesting bonus, because these songs remained the only official live recording of the group. But from the view of that time, it seemed to me that its only function was to extend the running time of "The 1st EP". In any case, the sound of the well-known tracks was alright and the live atmosphere was captured pretty well. It was just too bad that the fairly stupid "F.O.A.D." was presented instead of selecting one of their serious metallic compositions. Finally, the inconspicuous cover was definitely not helpful in order to get attention. This consequentially led to the fact that this output unfortunately did not have a huge impact on the scene. Nevertheless, if you like collecting albums of the thrash / speed genre, you can buy this more than solid EP without hesitation.
It doesn't look like much, but Grinder's 1st EP was ironically their last release with No Remorse Records before signing over to Noise Records for the incredibly dull 3rd full-length, Nothing is Sacred. It's similar to a lot of other short form thrash releases of the time: a few new studio tracks and some live material prescribed as a bonus. Strangely, Grinder have never really felt as 'alive' as they do on this album. Though Adrian Hahn's vocals and the force of the riffs are highly reminiscent of Arizona thrashers Flotsam & Jetsam, they distinguish themselves cleanly from the rest of the German thrash scene, and there's a lot of undeniable energy here that would have been great could it have persisted through a full length.
"Reeling on the Edge" is a bit misleading, sort of an eerie ska/metal piece with dopey sounding, rapped lyrics that remind me of Run DMC, or Phil Rind on the crappy Sacred Reich funk song "31 Flavors". At least until :45 in when it becomes a pure thrust of choppy speed/thrash and the vocals assume their Eric A.K. stance. Sadly, the ska shit returns in the next verse, so ultimately all the good parts are wasted. Not the case for "Incarnation Off" and "Truth in the Hands of Judas", which are both well written if not highly memorable thrashers that I honestly prefer to anything found on their second album, Dead End. The dense guitars, intensifying vocals and wild leads drive them over the brink of mediocrity, and I like the well plotted chorus of the latter.
As for the live material, you've got "Just Another Scar" from Dead End, and "Dawn for the Living" and "F.O.A.D." from the debut album. The quality of the sound here is average, but at least it's bright and clear enough to do justice to the songs. "F.O.A.D" is just as dumb as it was on Dawn for the Living, but the other tracks show that the band might have been even more fun live than in the studio. I can imagine The 1st EP would have been favorable for the fans, as it shows the band at their peak of energy, but there are really only two songs here worth hearing, and the rest can kindly fuck off.