#1
Budget: $250-300

I'm thinking about the Ibanez GRG170DX or the ESP LTD M-50. It's mostly for metal.
#2
Either are fine...but I would highly recommend buying a used guitar. You can get a midgrade guitar in that price range (like a 400 series LTD, a Jackson professional or an Ibanez).
Ibanez S7320
Peavey 5150 + Mesa 2x12 Rectifier