BLABBERMOUTH.NET has learned that former OBITUARY guitarist Allen West (prison photo) was released from the Gainesville Correctional Institution in Gainesville, Florida on January 19, 2008 after serving eight months for driving under the influence (DUI).
According to Headbanger's Blog, West has had problems with alcohol abuse over the years and even quit OBITUARY for a time in August 2005 because he was unable to remain sober enough to play shows. OBITUARY originally hoped West would sober up enough to work on the band's latest CD, "Xecutioner's Return", but the guitarist couldn't pull it off, and on May 16, 2007 he was arrested and imprisoned after his fifth DUI offense.
"If you've followed OBITUARY's history, it really shouldn't be any surprise about West's absence," OBITUARY frontman John Tardy said in a 2007 interview with The Metal Forge. "If you look all the way back to 'Cause Of Death', you could see he had certain issues at the time. If I had to sum up the two years since we released 'Frozen In Time', I would say that they've been a little challenging. His drinking was getting way out of hand. It was affecting us all personally, and affecting our shows with his poor performance onstage. It wasn't fun to be around him at times. It was bad. We would sit down and talk with him, and even beg with him to get his act together, and the very next day you would have a whole day where you simply couldn't get anything done because he was unavailable. There was something going on. His drinking got the best of him. In the end, he finally got himself one DUI (Driving Under The Influence) too many, and in front of a judge, who by all means probably did the right thing by him, put him behind bars for a little while. That's given him plenty of the time to think about the next time he gets behind the wheel of a car when he's been drinking. He could kill somebody next time. As much as I certainly didn't want to see that happen, I think it was all just coming to a head. I think this was the best thing to happen to him. He'll sober up to a point where he can finally think straight. I haven't really talked to him since they sent him to prison. It's not so easy getting contact with him, but I'm sure we'll talk when he gets out early next year. He has a lot of decisions to make, but I can't even begin to speculate what going to happen in the future with West. I don't know where his mind's going to be when he gets out. I don't know if being on the road is the best thing for him right now either. Whether you want to participate or not, every night on the road is like Friday night. You can't avoid being around that kind of atmosphere. It's one of those things. It's easy to get caught up in it too, but at the same we just have to keep focused on what we do. The most important thing right now is putting good shows on for the fans. It's an unfortunate situation West's in, and only in time will we know what's going to happen with that."
OBITUARY is currently utilizing the services of guitarist Ralph Santolla, who has previously played with DEICIDE, DEATH and ICED EARTH, among others. "We're just so excited to have Ralph and we get along great," Tardy said. "He lives a few miles from here and he comes over nearly every day and we're just messing around and writing all kinds of stuff."
OBITUARY's "Insane" video (featuring Allen West):