Price paid: $ 199
Purchased from: zZounds
Sound — 9
I am playing with the set installed on a Jackson PDXT though a Peavey 6505MH and a Carvin 1x12 cab with a V-30 speaker. Although being marketed as "KVLT black metal" pickups, they can do so much more! I play metal and try to emulate my favorites (Megadeth, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Immortal, etc), and these pickups are great for those genres. They handle low tunings very well without getting too muddy. Palm muting and chugging sounds brutal and very full. The neck pickup is great for leads, not being too shrill and having just the right amount of gain.
For being such hot pickups, they clean up extremely well. The bridge pickup is actually useful for cleans. Usually, I find that bridge pickups sound too thin for cleans, but not the Black Winter. The neck pickup is fantastic for cleans as well being rather warm (especially when rolling back the volume). They're also great for fingerpicking classical pieces.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's difficult to rate the durability of a pickup, since they're not the part of a guitar that takes much abuse. That being said though, I have never known Seymour Duncan to put out a poorly made product. I have had numerous sets of Seymour Duncan pickups and they all are made with attention to detail. They have fantastic quality control! Seymour Duncan includes all the necessary parts to install the pickups. Easy to read wiring diagrams can be found on their website.
Assuming I don't do something really stupid to my guitar or the pickups themselves, they sound last a lifetime. Being passive pickups, you don't have to mess with a battery, so there's one less thing to go wrong!
Overall Impression — 9
Sure, the box this pickup set comes in screams METAL, but if you're looking for a versatile pickup set, give these a shot. They're similar to the SH-6 set from Duncan, but clean up much better. They really can do everything from jazz to blistering metal. The Old English font of the face of each pickup is a cool touch that adds to the pickups' "KVLT" status. The Black Winter set is an enormous upgrade from the EMG HZs that came with my guitar (those are absolute garbage, EMG needs to stop making them). The set is a bit expensive at $199 USD, but well worth it.