Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus
This band was at the forefront of creating the sound that ultimately influenced a ton of stoner metal bands. It was in 1979 when the band began to combine elements of the L.A. punk scene and the new wave of British heavy metal and ended up with punk, stoner, doom and classic metal strains, all rolled into one helluva spliff. This self-titled 1984 debut truly shows the influence of these pioneers.
The Sword, Warp Riders
This Texas medieval-themed band is all about the smoke and mirrors -- lyrically and figuratively -- and is strongly influenced by bands like The Melvins and Sleep. The music is thick with mystery and distortion, and the lyrics circle around things like ancient literature, Norse mythology and war. This is one of those bands where you start head-banging without even realizing it, and it's hard to pinpoint just one of their albums that is worthy of this list. While their 2006 debut Age of Winters is an incredible record-the songs are catchy, euphoric and haunting--I gotta go with Warp Riders. This science fiction-narrative concept albums shows the distinctive change in the band's sound that moved from more doom metal to a faster, heavier metal sound.
Sleep, Sleep's Holy Mountain
Sleep is one of the most influential doom and stoner metal bands of all time (as well as one of the most underappreciated), and this 1995 record, the band's second, solidified the tone for their greatness, as well as the evolution of stoner metal; the cover art even features cannabis leaves. While it seems the members originally set out to go down the same paths of bands like Black Sabbath, somewhere along the way they just let their atmospheric, eerie grooves take over and evolve.