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NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

‘Epic the Musical’

‘The Ocean Saga’ Tells a Grand Tale
Image from Spotify

If you love Greek mythology, awesome storytelling, and musicals, then you must listen to “Epic the Musical” by Jorge Miguel Rivera-Herrans! “Epic the Musical” is a developing and ongoing musical that adapts Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey.” Each album, or saga, contains about four tracks, which closely follow Odysseus’s journey home.  

The musical begins with “The Troy Saga,” in which Odysseus leads the army to victory in the Trojan War and begins his perilous voyage home. “The Cyclops Saga” depicts Odysseus escaping from the Island of the Cyclops by outwitting the creatures.  

The third installment of the musical, “The Ocean Saga,” was released on Dec. 25, a perfect Christmas gift from Rivera-Herrans. The saga follows Odysseus’s time in the ocean and the difficulties that arise regarding the crew’s morale, mutual trust, and journey home. In each saga, Rivera-Herrans manages to not only capture the essence of the Odyssey, but also precisely blend the personalities of the characters with a corresponding musical instrument.  

Let’s dive into reviewing the four tracks in “The Ocean Saga.” 

Starting out with strong music and a feeling of grandeur, “Storm” has Odysseus singing energetically towards his crew. As the song progresses, we see how dire the situation becomes for the crew, and when all seems lost, they catch a glimpse of the island of the wind god Aeolus. This sparks an idea in Odysseus’s mind to aim for the island to get help navigating home.  

What I find interesting about “Luck Runs Out” is that it starts off highlighting the doubt that is forming amongst the crew about Odysseus’s leadership. While he comes up with a plan to ask the wind god for help, Eurylochus questions whether the plan is the best course of action. Eurylochus believes that luck is the reason that they survived the Trojan War and the Island of the Cyclops, and sooner or later, their luck will run out.  

Odysseus retorts that he was able to lead them through the Trojan War without losing a single crewmate and pulls Eurylochus aside. In their private conversation, we see Odysseus’s tone change from kind and willing to debate to stern and authoritative. He knows that if doubt in his leadership continues to grow amongst the crew, the chances of them successfully getting home will become slimmer.  

The third track, “Keep Your Friends Close,” is one of my favorite songs from this saga. The beginning starts off with Odysseus asking for help from the wind god Aeolus. Throughout the intro, we hear an angelic choir representing the divinity of the place where the characters are currently in. While Aeolus is typically regarded as a male in the Odyssey, she is female here and has a more playful nature.  

Aeolus proposes to offer aid if Odysseus can abide by the rules of her game. As long as the bag she gives to Odysseus remains closed, the winds of the storm will remain trapped, allowing the crew to return home undisturbed. However, once Odysseus returns to his ship, wind spirits instill mistrust within his crew. The crew believes he is hiding treasure, which makes it difficult for Odysseus to stop the rumors and forces him to guard the bag himself.  

As he guards the bag for days, we finally get to hear the voice of Penelope urging him to keep awake and continue guarding the bag. This makes the moment when he finally sleeps and stops guarding the bag more emotionally impactful, as he was so close to being able to go home.  

The song manages to capture one of the characteristics of Greek gods, namely the idea that they would much rather prefer to watch drama unfold instead of offering help without strings attached. Aeolus is constantly observing as this drama unfolds, alongside the troublemaking wind spirits.  

“Ruthlessness” is my second favorite song in the saga and details the aftermath of Odysseus’s crew members’ actions. Unlike the previous track, we hear a choir chanting Poseidon’s name in an almost warlike tone. Poseidon’s voice is filled with anger and contempt towards Odysseus for not only injuring his son but also because he views Odysseus as a weak leader.  

Poseidon’s philosophy is that mercy is weakness, and it is only through ruthlessness that you can be powerful and prevent future threats from occurring. Poseidon ultimately decimates the majority of the crew, but before he can kill the rest, he is outwitted by Odysseus. 

For fans of the series, Rivera-Herrans’s fourth installment, “The Circe Saga,” was released on Feb. 14. This saga follows Odysseus and his men’s journey on the island of Circe through the tracks “Puppeteer,” “Wouldn’t You Like,” “Done For,” and “There Are Other Ways.” 

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David Juarez, Staff Writer
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