Musically, this is a fine album containing some rockers, some driving electro, and some heartbreakingly beautiful songs. It hangs together well as an album, and there are no fillers.
HOWEVER, it sounds to me like the sound of the main disc is off in some way that I find difficult to pin down. Sometimes it's as though the bass end isn't quite there, and sometimes I feel that the fidelity of the sound overall is poor, as though it had been mastered at a lower bit-rate or something similar. It just doesn't feel as clear and present as the other remasters. Just to clarify, I feel this is a problem of the main disc, leaving aside the bonus disc for the moment.
I love this album, having played it repeatedly for years on vinyl following its release - I must dig the vinyl out sometime and do a sound comparison. So it's not a question of being new to the music. Also, the same individual has mastered all of the Collector's Edition remasters all of which I have, and all of which sound superb to me, and so I can't see how the problem is 'volume wars' mastering techniques when all of the other remasters sound so great.
Maybe I have an early copy, and this is a known error, and maybe newer copies correct this? Or maybe this is how the music sounds, and has always sounded since it was recorded, and no amount of remixing and remastering will 'correct' it. If so I'll get a newer copy, or confirm with a sound test with the original vinyl version, and edit this review accordingly. But for now I'm disappointed and it's ***** for the music but *** for this remaster.
EDIT 16.05.12: Ok, I've done a listening test comparing this Collector's Edition remaster with the UK CD (1993 re-release) - London Records (520 021-2) which you can find here: Brotherhood. I'm not going mad, and it's as I thought. The Collector's Edition is mastered to a louder volume for sure, and that's a modern disease, but the sound is distinctly harsher and, to my ears, less musical than the 1993 re-release. I'm not encouraged to turn the volume up listening to the Collector's Edition because the problem just gets worse, but I'm happy to whack the 1993 re-release up to high levels and the enjoyment increases proportionately.
Apologies to put a downer on this Collector's Edition re-master. I love New Order, and the other Collector's Edition re-masters sound brilliant to me to the point that I don't even want to do a listening test with earlier editions, but in my considered opinion this Collector's Edition Brotherhood is poorly mastered and therefore inferior to the 1993 re-release. I have revised my rating down to ** for this Collector's Edition, but it's still ***** for the music!