Viljanen was born in 1975, and started playing the guitar at eight, in 1983. Initially, he says that he began playing "because his dad forced him... and, of course, I wanted to be like KISS."  He got his first acoustic guitar a year later, but did not get an electric guitar until nearly four years later. After finally convincing his parents to let him purchase his first electric guitar (a white Leadstar), he took a few guitar lessons and learned some basic chords, but believed that if he wanted to learn rock'n'roll, it'd be something he's have to teach himself. So, around age thirteen, Viljanen began playing in local bands immediately after, heavily influenced by Metallica's early thrash metal. At age seventeen, he was given his first record contract.
In the early 90's, Viljanen was introduced to the music of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, but initially wrote it off as "just music for sports."  As time went by, however, he developed a love of Satriani's music, calling it the "bluesiest rock'n'roll," and considers Vai "God." Viljanen also lists Dream Theater as his progressive metal influence that pushed him towards the style he is today.
Formation of Elias Viljanen and Evil Spirit
As 2001 approached, Viljanen felt that he had to get his own project going. He spent several months writing down his music ideas he'd had for many years, but never expressed. He did have doubts, however, about his solo project, stating:
“ Earlier, I thought I wasn't ready for this kind of project because, when people listen to shred music, they are usually thinking 'This guy ain't fast enough" or 'He's just copying someone else.' Maybe I was a bit afraid of what people would think of me. But I wanted to do it, and I wanted it to be as close to perfect as possible. ”
To prepare for his three-demo, The Axe-Master, Viljanen practiced for 2–3 hours each day for nearly four months. While he may have had doubts before, they were now erased, as the demos and recording became both a dream and an obsession. Viljanen never dreamed of getting a serious record contract out of it, but sent his demos out anyway. The record company Lion Music, however, replied and offered him a recording contract. Thus, eighteen years after the dream began, Elias Viljanen's first album, Taking the Lead was born.
Feedback for Taking the Lead was overall positive, placing in the top ten hard rock/shred CD's at guitar9.com in 2003. Steve Vai himself also got Viljanen's CD, and gave him some encouraging feedback as well. In 2004, Lion Music again offered Viljanen a record contract when he sent in new demos, and he entered the Studios with Evil Spirit in early 2005. Recording went well, and he emerged satisfied with the completion of his second solo album, The Leadstar.
Sonata Arctica and Recent Work
Elias Viljanen traveled with the band Sonata Arctica in 2007, filling in for their guitarist Jani Liimatainen on tour. On August 8, Sonata Arctica formally released a letter naming Viljanen the official guitarist in Sonata Arctica. Liimatainen had apparently not been fulfilling his mandatory civic duties as declared by the Finnish government, and this had caused a rift in between him and the other members of the band. Viljanen took up the mantle as guitarist with much controversy, with many hard-core fans still wanting Liimatainen to be a part of the project. But Sonata Arctica were adamant, as was Liimatainen, and Viljanen thus maintained his status.
Viljanen toured with Sonata Arctica in support of their album Unia in late 2007 and early 2008. During the time off from tour in 2008, he began work on his third studio album, but the recording of Sonata Arctica's sixth studio album. So, Viljanen entered the studio with Sonata Arctica for the first time in the earlier half of 2009, recording the album The Days of Grays. As they were touring at the time of the release, Viljanen did not get to begin recording work on his album until early 2009. Later that year, his third studio album with Evil Spirit was released, Fire-Hearted.