#1
I'm very happy with my stock Ibanez SZ720 right now, but I feel like turning it into a real metal beast. My plans are:

-Locking tuners (the guitar already has strap locks)
- 12-52 guage string to tune to C standard with
-New pickups

A few questions: are there any brands of locking tuners you'd recommend or any that you feel should be avoided? Should the change in guage from 10-12 require a truss rod adjustment, or should the change in tuning, from standard to C standard mitigate the effects of the change in guage? And, by far the most important question, pickups! I'm leaning heavily towards an SD Full Shred pair (I was supposed to get some for my RG1570 but decided against it due to their reported treblyness) but I'm also considering an SD Duncan Distortion, Dimarzio X2N and Dimarzio D-Sonic in the bridge. I'm looking for a fairly dark, aggresive tone lots with lots of gain and sustain for lead and rythym, ah, and clarity too. I hate muddiness. Tones I'm aiming at: Death, OPETH, Mastadon. So the question is: which of these would be best for my needs?
I will show you something different from either
Your shadow in the morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
#2
Anyone? EMGs (81 and 60 probably) might also be an option, though I'm trying to keep cost as low as possible, and don't particularly want to have to pay for any extra routing. If they're worth though, I'll be willing to pay up.
I will show you something different from either
Your shadow in the morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you
I will show you fear in a handful of dust