"Grind" seems to address the various rumors that surrounded the band at the time. The opening lines, "In the darkest hole, you'd be well advised/Not to plan my funeral before the body dies", seem to be addressing the rumors that the band had broken up and the many rumors of vocalist Layne Staley's death that had occurred frequently around this time. In the liner notes of 1999's Music Bank box set collection, guitarist Jerry Cantrell said of the song:
That was pretty much at the height of publicity about canceled tours, heroin, amputations, everything, thus it was another "FUCK YOU for saying something about my life" song. Any single rumor you can imagine, I've heard. I've been dead a few times, Layne's been dead countless times and lost limbs. I get on the phone every time I hear a new one, "Hey Layne, radio in New York says you lost two more fingers." "Oh really? Cool." I'd spoof The Six Million Dollar Man; "Since technology's moved on it only cost us 2 million to put Layne back together and we got better parts."
Editorial reviews frequently singled out the dark, compelling lyrics of the song. Jon Wiederhorn of Rolling Stone noted, "'Grind' shimmers and shudders beneath a web of trippy wah-wah guitar and half-distorted vocal harmonies, and features one of the album's many hook-filled choruses."Allmusic's Steve Huey regarded the song "among the band's best work" but also noted that the less refined tracks on the album make the defiance of "Grind" sound "more like denial." Regarding band rumors, Jon Pareles of The New York Times commented that the song advises against believing "what you may have heard and what you think you know."