Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:28 pm
SD are currently offering pickups specifically aimed at extreme metal, namely the Sentient, Nazgul and Black Winter sets. The only ones i've tried myself are the Black Winters, they're a slightly harsher, more cutting (read - less mid, more treble) SH-6 in terms of voicing. Can't vouch for the others but have heard good things about them.
If you're not absolutely stuck on staying passive, Duncan are also offering 7-string versions of the Blackout now, you could stick a set of those in and they'll take just about any other pickup to the cleaners. And for less money than a set of Bare Knuckles (which are fantastic pickups, although not to my taste). As a small aside, don't be too hun up on staying resolutely active or passive, ever. I played EMG and EMG only for 3 years, then switched to passive pickups (using various mixes of Duncans, Kent Armstrongs, etc,) but then went back to actives as I found that the passives just weren't doing it for me when i went down to drop B tuning. To my ears, my tone improved a hundredfold with switching back. Active pickups -> Bigger signal -> Amp (or in my case amp model) being hit harder -> More satan.
Other active option would be a 7-string set of the EMG 57/66set, which sound absoluely terrifying.
Alternately, if you want cheap and cheerful, i believe Iron Gear are now venturing into the 7-string market, both active and passive.
Even more alternately, you could either an EMG Afterburner or SD Blackout Modular Preamp to "activate" your existing pickups. I'm giving very serious consideration to adding the Blackout mod to one of my Jackson King Vs (loaded with Duncan Detonators) As it seems to be a low-cost (circa £60) way to get active pickup tone without having to do a tremendous amount of modification to the guitar. The Blackout preamp is also quite cute as it works off a tone-pot (replacing one of your guitar’s pots) rather than the push-button of the Afterburner. I’d imagine that either of these pre-amp boosts would work better with their respective brand of pickups, but cross-matching could be interesting.
Also consider things like what amp you’re using, your settings, your EQ, and even things like your pickup height. All these can make a big big difference.