Your first kit should not break the bank, nor should it be highly specialized. It is simply a kit you will use to gain skill in drumming, and also to illustrate what you personally do and don't want in a drum kit. Different woods, skins, and cymbal construction will all contribute subtle tonal differences, all at the same (high) pricepoint. Making all of these decisions for your first kit is a waste of money; you have no idea what you want, because you have no point of reference.
As far as brand and pricepoint, virtually any kit, in the right hands, can be made to sound pretty good. Tuning and dampening drum heads, adjusting the snare, etc etc are key whether you're playing on a $400 or a $4000 kit. I've seen wonders performed on a $350 Pearl Rhythm Traveler kit just by selecting the right skins for each can and properly mounting, tuning and dampening each one. However, a good kit set up properly will definitely beat a cheap kit set up properly; most of the working pros I've dealt with generally have a "gigging" kit somewhere in the $1200-$1600 range, up to $2000-$2500 including cymbals. But, like I said, spending that kind of money generally requires you to know what you want, or you end up spending that $2000-$2500 on a kit that doesn't do what you want.
You simply need to sit down and play any kit you are thinking of buying. If the store or seller will let you, tear it down and set it back up again as well. You're looking for the following things:
Utility. For your $500 going into a beginner's kit, you need a kick, at least two toms (more like three), snare, hat, crash and ride. A "jazz kit" (kick, snare, hat, ride) for $500 may be a pretty good setup, but you won't be playing much thrash metal on it. While we're on that subject, understand that very few kits at this pricepoint have the double-pedal kick you will need for most metal music. The ones that do suffer horribly in other areas; they're designed to have the metal look and features, but terrible sound and durability. You can budget for an aftermarket double kick pedal, or you can just look harder for a (probably used) kit that includes one.
Solid hardware. This is the number one place that cheap kits cut corners. Thin tubes, friction-plate hinge mountings, narrow tripods, etc etc. will cost you bigtime when they fail during a gig or break in transit from place to place, and in the meantime they'll be a constant source of frustration as they constantly shift, bend or sway on you. This is an instrument you're literally beating with sticks, for Pete's sake; it should look like it can take everything you've got with a "thank you sir, may I have another".
Decent tone. The toms shouldn't sound like they're stuffed full of socks, the snare should sound crisp and precise with the snares on and off, and the cymbals shouldn't sound like you made them out of frying pans. Understand that money buys tone, so you're not going to get perfection, but the sound of the kit should be at least livable if not serviceable. Also understand that it's not going to sound like the drum track on your favorite metal album; recorded drum tracks are first close-mic'ed, then each individual signal is EQed, compressed and gated to hell and back to produce the overall sound that gets mixed into the final cut. There are some things you can do to nudge the sound of individual drums one way or another, but if you can't get a tone you can live with out of the kit with just a tuning key, then moon gel and new skins probably won't save it.
Looks you can live with or at least easily change. As this is a beginner's kit that you're going to be learning with in your own home, looks are the very lowest on the list; if it has everything else you need in a drum kit, but the shells are pink sparkle with butterflies, buy it. Nobody's going to see you playing it until you want them to, and a can of Krylon flat black will have any set of shells looking "metal" in pretty short order (you just have to fully disassemble each drum down to the wood shell and mask the rims and inside before painting).
One last note; understand that the newer metal genres (like any "metal" genre newer than 80's hair metal) is probably the most physically and rhythmically challenging genre for drummers. Metal drummers turn the beat around, use fills heavily, and generally don't conform to the standard rock rhythms that are generally recommended for new kit players. Just fair warning: your first song, from a confidence-building standpoint, should probably not be Disturbed's "Remember". Maybe Judas Priest/Marilyn Manson's "Personal Jesus".