Doesn't harm that half of the "metal" guitars out there are loaded with them to begin with...
I don't agree with the fact that basswood and passive is no good for recording, given for my recordings and the tone I go for, actives are absolutely useless. It's personal preference.
As for trems, you'll find a lot of tracking engineers and mix engineers will prefer you come into the studio with a fixed bridge guitar.
In a perfect world it doesn't matter too much, but in a world where not everyone has consistent technique and can potentially push the guitar out of tune with bad muting technique, you can understand why often engineers will have on their list of things to do " DO NOT use guitars with tremolos for rhythm guitar tracks".
I'm not saying basswood and passives are useless and "no good" at all.
But based on the tightest, most crushing productions I've heard, generally none of them are based around basswood guitars and only a few based on passive pickups.
My personal pick for the 5 most technically perfect productions out there
1. Soilwork - Stabbing the Drama : EMG loaded guitars
2. Gojira - The Way of All Flesh - Seymour Duncan JB loaded Jacksons (alder body most likely)
2. Sylosis - Conclusion of an Age : again, EMG in ESP guitars
3. Nevermore - This Godless Endeavor - EMGs in Mahogany IIRC
4. Paramore - Brand New Eyes : Yes it's not metal obviously, and it's lower gain stuff, but obviously it's not the kinda music that really calls for actives anyway. In a lower gain situation like that, passives seem to work better.
Definitely helps Chris Lord-Alge was at the mixing desk for that album
5. All Shall Perish - Awaken the Dreamers : again, EMG
I think we can see from this, that something about the way active pickups sound just help them slot into the mix.
Their tight bottom end and lower mids helps to keep things more concentrated in the mid range frequency bands.
Not so much of a concern when you're playing lower gain stuff, but for modern metal with lots of saturation from the pre-amp, that stuff is important.
Really I've just never heard a mix using passive pickups in a basswood guitar that brings the kind of chunk and basically perfect lower mids that I hear on those albums.
As we know, Petrucci uses basswood + Dimarzio passives, but none of his guitar tones really match the tightness of anything listed above IMO.
The JB does indeed work with Alder in the case of TWOAF, but of course the JB can quickly get messy with the wrong woods. Very picky about what body woods it goes into, whereas actives seem at home in a variety of woods from basswood, alder, Mahogany and even Ash