You should probably use the pinky, if only to strengthen it in case you really are forced to use it later. I know I'd use the pinky. Unless it makes it hard to hit a note further down the fretboard (which you would then need the pinky for). In that case I'd spread out.
FR means Floyd Rose. The whammy bar brand? You want an Original (OFR) and not a Licensed (LFR) because LFRs are made with crappy material and such. Don't hold tune, deteriorate. More frustration than they're worth.
For about a grand I'd get either the Hellraiser FR or the Blackjack ATX FR. Depends on your preference. Both have active pickups but one set are EMGs (in the Hellraiser) and are tappable (able to be split into single-coils) and one set are Blackouts (in the BlackJack ATX). You'll also have money left over and they are professional quality guitars. They're about $800 each, I believe.
If you don't like active pickups, try the new Stilleto Classic (I believe it's called). It has a whammy bar made by Kahler (Or Gotoh . . . . I forget) for Schecter and it's supposedly really good. That's about a grand. I'm not sure what else has a whammy in Schecter's stock (that's professional quality).
Of all the Schecters out there the Damien FR is probably the worst. Still a good guitar, but I'd go for either an Omen-6 or a C-1 FR if you need a whammy. C-1s are always good guitars. Go a bit higher in price and you can get a set neck, though. I try to avoid LFRs though, so I avoid the Damien FR like the plague.
Any genre of music is still music. Not "noise." Yes, even rap.
Like you said, it's all just personal preference. It just so happens that metal has become increasingly popular in recent years and it tends to spawn guitarists. Thus, you have a heavy bias towards metal.
Let's see. Truth be told the main reason is probably the fact that I'm a huge Randy Rhoads fan. Also, the Jackson has a flame maple top. I also prefer two Seymour Duncan pickups that works exceptionally well together over two lead pickups from EMG. I mean, a lot of people do use two 81s, I just wouldn't. It's all a matter of preference in the end though.
The only downsides I see to the Rhoads are that it only has 22 frets (which isn't much of a crutch) and that it's a bolt-on. Actually, I almost bought one last year but decided on a Hellraiser.
Whatever you decide to do, you've chosen two great guitars.
You shouldn't really have that problem unless you're sweeping or pretty clumsy. If you're sweeping you can use that palm muting technique, but if you're just clumsy you should really just practice more and work on having a lighter touch with your fretting hand. I think.