Arriving in the fall of 1999, Category 5 -- Firehouse's appropriately titled fifth effort -- follows its unplugged predecessor Good Acoustics by three years. During that time, the unplugged phenomenon died down, and a pop-metal revival was beginning to bubble up, thanks in large part to VH1's embrace of hair metal bands for their Behind the Music series. Firehouse wasn't fortunate enough to be spotlighted on Behind the Music, but they were fortunate to deliver a new album during the revival. Two things prevent Category 5 from being an unqualified comeback. First, Firehouse have toned down their guitars, relying on arrangements borrowed from Enuff Z'Nuff instead. The songs remain the same, though -- melodic, anthemic pop-metal that just puts more emphasis on the pop than metal. Though the tunes aren't particularly memorable, the way "Don't Treat Me Bad" was, they're not bad either, and the end result is an album as strong as any they've recorded. But their real problem with mounting a comeback is that the pop-metal audience simply doesn't buy new records from hair metal bands. They'll see them live, but do not buy the new recordings. The fact that Category 5 is as good as the band's other records will only be noticed by the hardcore followers -- which is ironic, since if it was delivered a decade earlier, it would have played to the same crossover audience that loved "Don't Treat Me Bad."
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine